Girl: Short Story and Daughter Essay

Submitted By Steve4910
Words: 1089
Pages: 5

Mothers are always protective of their young. Examples can be drawn by looking a different species of animals, such as bears or alligators who are very aggressive toward anything that tries to gets close to their young; human mothers however, have a different way of protecting their young. The short story, “Girl” written by Jamaica Kincaid, is about a mother explaining to her daughter how to be a proper woman. Towards the end however, the mother explains to the daughter how to be a ‘good’ slut. “Girl” uses repetition, mood, and irony to express a mothers concern that her daughter be safe while living a risqué lifestyle.
Throughout the story, the mother repeats a sentence several times because she is concerned for her daughter’s choice in the type of lifestyle she is choosing to live. The three lines vary each time, revealing the increase in the mother’s belief that her daughter has made a poor life choice. The first time the mother says, “not like the slut you are bent on becoming” (Kincaid 200), and she says it two more times ending with, “and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming” (Kincaid 200-201). The first time she says these words she is just trying to tell her daughter to do these things and she will live a good life. However, the last time the mother says it she is saying do these things and people won’t realize right away what her daughter is. At this point in the story the mother says that people won’t “recognize” the daughter “immediately,” and realizes that she is beyond recovery and just needs to be safe from the people who just want to take advantage of her. Those three lines help show the mothers concern for her daughters well being during her risqué lifestyle. Just like how the repetition of those three lines change, the mood of the story changes from a caring relationship of a simple list of daily chores at the beginning of the story, to slight concern for the daughter in the middle, and then finally to complete and total concern for her daughters risqué lifestyle. In the first few sentences of the story, the mother explains to the daughter what the she needs to do to be a proper wife, “Wash the clothes on Monday… soak salt fish overnight… walk like a lady” (Kincaid 200). Then at the end of the story, the mother is telling the daughter what happens in relationships, and several times abusive ones to help her be prepared for the path that her choices have left her, “this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man…there are other ways” (Kincaid 201). The difference in the two different quotes shows how the mothers concern for the daughters well being changes, from just wanting the daughter to make a good wife to how to not completely ruin her life with the bad decisions the daughter has made. The mother does this by describing how to do the “wash the clothes,” “soak the fish,” and how to “walk like a lady”, then, when the daughter has reached the point of no return, the mother just wants the daughter to know what to expect by explaining, “how to bully a man,” and “how to love a man.” This change in mood is why the mother explains how relationships work, and how to stand up for herself in the bad ones. The mothers concern for the daughter is highlighted in the mood as it shifts from the caring motherly relationship to an all out concern for the daughter’s safety while she lives a risqué lifestyle. Unlike how the repetition and mood change throughout the story, the irony only shows up at the end of the story, and is used to convey her worry and concern for her daughter lifestyle choice. The mother tells the daughter how to “catch a fish,” “how to throw back a fish,” so that “something bad won’t fall on you” (Kincaid 201). If the text is read for the word, it these sentences are just a mother explaining to a daughter how to fish, but the mother is hiding a