What type of narrator is used in "Girl"?

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The narrative point of view used in this story is the third-person objective. A third-person objective narrator is never going to be a participant in the events that take place in the story (this accounts for the third-person part of the designation), and they can only report what is...

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The narrative point of view used in this story is the third-person objective. A third-person objective narrator is never going to be a participant in the events that take place in the story (this accounts for the third-person part of the designation), and they can only report what is visible to the eye, rather than any of the unspoken thoughts or feelings of any character (this accounts for the objective part). In this story, the narrator never uses the first-person pronoun "I" or "we," and they never report the thoughts or feelings of either the main speaker or the titular girl, who speaks only twice throughout the entire text. The narrator is only able to report what is spoken aloud, and though a third-person objective narrator can also sometimes report people's body language or movements, this is not vital. Therefore, the narrator is a third-person objective one. It may seem as though the narrator is speaking from a second-person point of view, but I believe this is incorrect, as the girl also speaks for herself; this is not a monologue. It's true that the mother figure does speak a great deal more than the girl does, but the narrator does report both characters' speech.

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Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" utilizes what is known as second-person narration—a rare but not unheard of type of narrative voice. Essentially, what this means is that rather than first-person narration (which uses "I") or third-person narration (which speaks objectively using "he," "she," "they," etc.), second-person narration uses "you" or "your," addressing the reader directly.

The effect of using this narrative style is that the reader thinks about what goes on in the story as an extension of their own experience. Ironically, this is often very alienating because we as readers are not used to this technique. Second-person narration is a particularly hard form of narration to pull off and is therefore often used only in short fiction like "Girl." However, there are some writers, such as Mohsin Hamid, who manage to write entire novels while only using the second-person.

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The story or, arguably, poem "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid occurs entirely in the form of dialogue which comes from two different first-person narrators: the girl and her caretaker. This caretaker figure might be her mother, though it is never specified. For most of the story, the caretaker is speaking to the girl directly, and so most of the narrative appears in second-person voice. The caretaker gives the girl a series of imperatives and lectures her, and the girl responds, mostly feebly, in her own defense.

Unusually, although the story is a compilation of lines that are obviously spoken, quotation marks are never used to denote this. When the girl's voice appears, which only happens twice, it is set apart from the story by being italicized.

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Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” is a short story or prose poem that takes the form of a dramatic monologue. The second-person is used throughout, causing the reader to identify with the girl of the title. The narrator is hectoring and didactic, beginning the monologue with a series of commands and prohibitions concerning laundry and cooking.

The speaker appears to be a working-class mother giving advice to her daughter, but the tone is distant and dictatorial, devoid of sympathy, a series of short staccato commands. The mother is obsessed with sex and food, warning her daughter against anything that might cause her to be regarded as a “slut” and uniting her two obsessions in the last phrase: “you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?” Although the piece is very short, the narrator’s continuous torrent of orders makes it overwhelming.

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Jamaica Kincaid's short story "Girl" uses a second-person voice. The speaker, Mother, directly addresses the eponymous girl as "you." When she doesn't use the pronoun, she still issues commands in second-person.

Second-person narrative voices are unusual, but not in Kincaid's prose. She employed the same device when she wrote her personal essay about colonialism, A Small Place.

The narrator in "Girl" is hostile, blaming, and fearful. The girl is an adolescent, which creates a lot of anxiety in her mother who seeks to contain her developing sexuality, which includes telling her not to talk to the "wharf-rat boys, not even to give directions" and not to squat in the dirt to play marbles.

The narrator discusses not only what to do and what not to do now, but she tells the girl what she is expected to do in the future, which includes everything from gardening and cooking advice to how to "love a man."

The narrator shows up in nearly every sentence—direct, accusatory, and constant. The girl's voice emerges twice—the first time to refute an accusation about singing benna, or calypso, in church, and the second time to ask a question about what to do if "the baker" won't let her feel the bread. The latter sends the mother recoiling with disappointment and a sense of futility.

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