What is the significance of the title of “Girl”? How does it focus the reader on the themes and message of the story?

The significance of the title of "Girl" is that it reflects the story's theme of femaleness in a generic way. Rather than a specific, named protagonist, the story's main character can represent anyone who advises and criticizes another female person. While the story is often interpreted as a mother giving advice to a daughter, it remains unclear if there are two characters present and, if so, what is the relationship between them. The "girl" could be anyone.

Expert Answers

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By titling her story "Girl," Jamaica Kincaid leaves the interpretation open to the reader. The author suggests that females have some shared qualities and that the term "girl" might be applied to any female. The primary speaker in the story is not named. It seems that this person freely dispenses advice to and criticizes another character—who also unnamed—who occasionally responds or protests.

It is unclear, however, if there are actually two characters present and engaging in an actual dialogue. If there are two people, Kincaid does not specify the relationship between them. Perhaps there is only one person, who is remembering the advice given by one or more other people. Perhaps this person is considering whether to pass such advice along to a girl they know.

Many readers have assumed that the main speaker is a mother, who is criticizing her daughter along with advising her on proper behavior. The absence of information about the speaker(s) or their identity allows the reader to form their own opinion about how many people are there. The "girl" of the title may be the mother figure, the daughter figure, or any female who has given or received advice about how females should live.

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