Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" is a short piece of writing that has been described as a story, a poem, and a dramatic monologue. It is in the voice of a mother or perhaps another older female relative, such as an aunt, giving advice and instruction to a young girl. The speaker is obsessively concerned with respectability, which she equates with purity and demure behavior. She repeatedly warns the girl against being over-familiar with men and worries that she is "bent on becoming" a "slut." She also instructs the girl on the domestic chores and duties she will have to perform as a woman.
Although "Girl" is short even by the standards of a short story, it does not feel short, because of the intense flood of advice and criticism it contains. This intensity goes some way towards creating the tone, which is angry, scolding, and hectoring. The speaker assumes that the girl will not follow her advice, at least as far as her conduct with men is concerned, or that she will only do so reluctantly. She sounds like a revivalist preacher telling a fearful congregation how terrible their sins are in the sight of God. This disapproving tone makes even the simple practical advice about housekeeping sound like a rebuke.