In the short story "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, what are the literary elements that are used in this story?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Literary elements, a category of literary devices, are the potentially universal parts of all fiction. These are plot, narrator, setting, point-of-view, conflict, theme. the literary work Girl deviates from this universality in some ways. Literary techniques, the other category of literary devices, are such as tone, mood, diction, language, idiom, metaphor, simile, etc.

Girl has no plot that is being told and so there is also no narrator. A narrator, by definition tells something that is happening or has happened or may happen. Girl is a string of present-moment instructions and comments (e.g., "set a table for tea," "I have warned you against," etc.). The point-of-view would be that of the speaker who is the "I" in the monologue. The one being addressed is the "you" of the monologue. Since there is no plot, there is no conflict. The theme is how a girl should live, work and grow up to be productive, effective, moral (not a "slut") and economical.

The setting appears to be the environs of speaker's home where she gives instruction in things like cooking fritters. The locale is indicated by things like food, such as pumpkin fritters and pepper pot, which indicate a Caribbean vicinity. Laundry is done by hand and hung out to dry indicating a time period when the poor had no electricity. A low income area is indicated by the fact that laundry is done by hand and the speaker talks of making ends meet.

[For more detail, see the eNotes links below, especially the link to "Style." Also, for more information on Literary Devices, see Mr. Jay Braiman's Literary Devices glossary and Dr. Kip Wheeler's Literary Terms and Devices glossary.]

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