Identify and discuss a type of conflict in “Girl” by Jamaica Kinkaid.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jamaica Kincaid’s story “Girl” seems to be a monologue, apparently spoken by an adult woman. However, the story is in many ways a masterpiece of ambiguity. There are many, basic qualities which a story usually has—such as a main character and a plot—but that in case that the reader cannot determine.

The fundamental issues are: if the person that the speaker addresses, who seems to be a girl, is actually present; if the monologue is spoken aloud; if the monologue is composed of the speaker’s thoughts; or if the monologue is the girl’s memory of things that the woman previously told her or wrote to her. Because the monologue is self-contained and it cannot be determined if any other characters are present, it is most reasonable to conclude that the conflict that the author presents is internal: the character versus herself.

If the reader believes that the essay is the speaker’s monologue, then the conflict would be within the speaker, as she struggles to reconcile her beliefs in social norms with her responsibilities to the girl, who may be her daughter. However, if it seems that the monologue is actually the girl’s memories, then her internal conflict might be between her current self and her younger self.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial