Story Analysis of ‘Girl’ by Jamaica Kincaid


I invite you to read and discuss short stories with me with a ‘Read of the Day,’ a short story in English. We can indulge in the joy of reading and discussion together.

Read of the Day 

You can read the short story online here.

Today, we will read Girl by Jamaica Kincaid. Because of its writing style, it’s called a 650 word sentence. 

About the Author 

Jamaica Kincaid was born Elaine Potter Richardson in Antigua. She escaped from her family and country at seventeen and rechristened herself. Jamaica worked in New York City as an au pair for an upper-class family. Later, she became a regular contributor to the New Yorker magazine) writing for it for nearly two decades to date. It’s also where met her editor husband. Kincaid’s stories mostly revolve around the mother daughter theme, anticolonialism, and gardening.

Story Analysis 

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid breaks all rules in prose and poetry, and it’s a winner all the way. Call it a poetic prose or prose poem, and you’re right whichever way you look at it!  

Unlike fiction stories, there is no beginning, middle, or end in this short story. It doesn’t follow any structure or rhyme rules of poetry. But that’s irrelevant because the author has a tight grip on the message.

It’s a straightforward and relatable story, especially for women in the less developed parts of the world. Whichever strata of Indian society you hail from, the chances are that, as an Indian woman, you’d have been conditioned similarly to the ‘Girl’ in the story. There’s no denying that misogyny exists in developed countries as well. But like corruption, it’s veiled, unlike their lesser developed counterparts, where misogyny stares straight in your face. 

The story is a lengthy ‘do and don’ts’ list for the girl child. It unravels the anxieties of a mother of her girl’s growing body and sexuality. She instructs her daughter on the art of being a domestic goddess to gain acceptance and respect in society.

The only progressive part in the story is when the mother tells her daughter it’s okay to give up on a broken relationship despite all efforts to make it work. Barring that, the rest of the story is a grim reminder of how girls and women are conditioned to restrict themselves to fit into society’s norms. The mother fears her daughter may choose to follow otherwise, i.e., the path of a slut.

A lot of focus is placed on tradition and the conventional outlook on gender—the concept of purity and virginity, where the mother goes to the bizarre extent of instructing her daughter to clean herself daily, even if it means in her own spit. 

Here, the mother is an agent of patriarchy as she thrusts upon her daughter the ‘black and white’ notion of a woman. Being a good woman is to embrace a life of domesticity and not be like men. It means staying within the four walls of the home, seeking permission for every decision, dressing modestly, limiting social interactions with men, and other inane restrictions. 

In this story, Jamaica Kincaid shares her lived experiences as she faced discrimination in her own home. The story is still relevant in many parts of the world where the girl child is unwanted, and at best, tolerated if she falls in compliance to societal norms. 

What are your thoughts on Girl by Jamaica Kincaid?

Image by Aamir Mohd Khan from Pixabay

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Tina Sequeira
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. She is passionate about tech, creativity, and social justice—dabbling in and writing about the same.

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  1. Tina, what a powerful piece of writing! Jamaica Kincaid has created a masterpiece in words, defining the constricted life of a young woman bound by the shackles of society. I look forward to reading more of your posts in this challenge. All the best!

  2. That’s a powerful piece of writing and thank you for sharing the link to the original one. I loved your thoughts that explained the concept. Looking forward to reading more such unique posts from you which otherwise I wouldn’t have known.

  3. I hadn’t read the works of Jamaica Kincaid so thank you for introducing me to her writings. The whole idea that women need protection is probably what shackles women in the first place. We need to be human’s first.

  4. What a thought provoking story it is! Thank you for sharing the link. Women, limited by patriarchy, grooming their daughters for a restricted life they can foresee for them. Powerful story and post.

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