What is the significance of "singing benna in sunday school" in Kincaid's "Girl"?

The focus of Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" is that the girl must preserve a wholesome reputation at all costs. Singing sexually suggestive benna in Sunday school would damage this reputation in the eyes of the entire community.

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Benna is a style of calypso music which originated in Antigua, the birthplace of Jamaica Kincaid. Because it uses the "call and response" technique which is also popular with charismatic preachers, it is superficially similar to some of the gospel music that forms part of the service. However, the content of benna, including sexual innuendo and local gossip, would be quite inappropriate in this setting.

The speaker is concerned that the girl is taking the church services too lightly and, even worse, being observed doing so when she parodies the religious music by singing benna. This worries the speaker so much that she mentions the subject three times. First, she asks if it is true that the girl sings benna in Sunday school. Then, without giving her time to reply (since the speaker always assumes the worst), she tells the girl that she must not sing benna in Sunday school. Finally, the speaker sanctimoniously asserts that she herself does not sing benna on Sundays at all and never in...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1061 words.)

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