What literary element seems to be most prevalent in "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The most obvious literary element of this short story is the point of view and narration, which is noteworthy because it is so different from any other story. "Girl" distinguishes itself because it presents a dialogue rather than a plot. There is therefore no narrator in the sense normally associated with literature, as there are no events narrated by either a character or an external narrator. The story takes the form of a monologue (mostly) by the mother, that is delivered to her daughter, who is only allowed to contribute once or twice. The mother refers to herself in the first person, using "I," which is shown when she talks about "the slut I know you are so bent on becoming." However, this very different form allows the speech to be directed at "you," which is the mother's daughter, who is the "girl" refered to in the title, as the mother gives her a whole list of orders, instructions and bits of advice:

...this is how to make a pepper pot; this is how to make  agood medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child; this is how to catch a fish...

This monologue does contain two lines uttered by the daughter, and these serve to reveal some of the tensions and the interesting dynamics that occur between these two characters. As the above quote indicates, however, the point of view allows the reader to see the mother's concern to properly educate her daughter, in every way, including sexually and how to conduct herself.  

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,990 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question