Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" can be described as a short story, a prose poem, a dramatic monologue or a very short play for one performer. It is intended to be genre-defying. In this literary sense, it is unfamiliar and disorienting, but on a deeper level it is entirely familiar, since practically everyone has had the experience of being harangued by a parent or older relative.
The direct address compels the reader's attention with a long string of staccato commands, accompanied by sarcastic, disapproving asides, such as those on the danger of the girl becoming a "slut." This structure takes the place of a conventional plot. There is a strong didactic element, with a focus on social skills, and repetition signaling the different ways of doing the same thing in different situations (e.g., "this is how you set a table"). This parallelism actually increases the sense of how many things the speaker has to impart. The girl must not only be taught many different skills, she must be taught them many different ways. This piling up of examples and the quick-fire mixture of practical education with moral instruction leaves the reader feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, as though a whole childhood full of commands and reproofs had been condensed into a few minutes, which, of course, it has.