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by Jamaica Kincaid

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In "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, how does she use syntax to create an effect?

In "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, the syntax of the story serves to create a sense of the breathless, constant talk about the mother. The reader endures the syntax in the same way the daughter endures the mother's talk. In that sense, the syntax conveys both the many things one needs to know to be a woman and the emotional and physical exhaustion such rules entail.

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The syntax in the story creates the effect of making the reader share in the daughter's experience of being "instructed"—or harangued—by her mother. The story, written as a single run-on sentence, mirrors the kind of breathless talk the daughter must endure from her mother. It is a kind of stream-of-consciousness in which there is hardly room for the daughter's italicized interjections. By the end of the story, we feel the same exhaustion as the daughter.

The accumulation of clause after clause also goes to show how many things the daughter has to learn to become a woman, and the degree to which being a woman means living a life consumed by the endless work of cooking, cleaning, planting, and sewing, and the countless rules around how to behave in public. For the mother, any woman who deviates from these rules is a "slut," and she interprets her daughter's shortcomings as evidence of her desire to become a "slut."

At the same time, the lack of detail in these clauses—the mother will...

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