Girl is one of the short stories written by Jamaica Kincaid. It is a dramatic monologue in which a mother advises her daughter “the girl”. The tone of the story is quite aggressive in which a mother emphasizes on teaching her daughter about how to save herself from sexual exploitation. However it has been observed that her tone includes caring and concerned (Snodgrass, 2019). When a mother is concerned about her kids her tone includes bitterness, control, and care. On the other hand, the tone of daughter in this short story is inattentive and timid. There are variation of tone observed in this short story.
The tone of the story is naggy (annoying and irritating) throughout the story, the mother has a complaining tone regarding the character of her daughter. From these lines in the story we can confirm the bitterness of mother’s tone “Be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your spit”( Rabea & Almahameed, 2018). The seriousness of tone of the mother is evident as “don’t sing Benna in Sunday school”.
Analyzing the mood of the story, it won’t be wrong to say that a mother treat her kids sometimes harshly because she wants them to become better persons in the society. When a mother is teaching her kids especially her daughter, we can observe a mix of tones and moods. We also have evidence of a soft tone of advice in this story as “Cook Pumpkin fritter in very hot sweet oil; soak your little clothes right after you take them off”. In this story we have observed that the behavior of a mother is highly controlling and even she doesn’t allow her daughter to eat something of her choice. “Don’t eat fruits on the street-flies will follow you”. This statement from the story shows that the mother has an over controlling nature.
The style and tone of the story show that it is written in dramatic monologue, as the author has used the second person. When the readers read the story, they would feel like they are being advised and instructed by mother (Rosenberg, pp. 1238-1239). It is also observed that Jamaica Kincaid has used italic fonts to differentiate the dialogues of girl (daughter) and mother. For example, “but what if the baker won’t let me feel bread”
Considering the structure of the poem, it could be seen that the sentences of the poem are long and having fewer punctuations. Long sentences are frequently used in this story and that could be seen in the text “This is how to love a man; if this does not work there are others ways; and if they don’t work feel too bad about giving up“. Another important point noticed in this short story is that Jamaica Kincaid is a Caribbean writer and used Caribbean words in her writing. For example, the word “Okra” means a tree that’s a Caribbean word and “Dasheen” is also a Caribbean word which means some kind of dishes. The choice of the common language and national language appeals to the readers and reflects her association with her language. Kincaid has used semicolons in her work to separate the advice and commands of mother that separate conflicting feelings of a daughter from that of the mother.
Taking a look at the choice of the words, format, long sentences, tone and mood of the poem, it could be said that the author captured the attention of the readers. This selection of the mentioned elements shows the message of the story short on the readers. The tone of the story arouse pity and sympathy of readers for the daughter “girl” as she is being controlled by her mother and could not do anything on her own. The use of Caribbean words in the work reflects the attachment of the author to her language. The style and choice of the words show the sympathy for mother who is concerned about her daughter and tries to make her understand things that she must avoid to protect herself.
The selection of the words in the poem “Girl” shows her understanding about composition and arrangement of different feelings and ideas. The choice of the words also reflects Jamaica Kincaid’s attachment to her national language. She used some words of her native language in this peom that shows her attachment with her mother tongue. She used simple but catchy and grabbing words that depict the feeling and the thoughts of both characters in this short story (Spencer, 2019). It could be said that she knows the mastery art of selection of the words. She has inculcated in the readers sympathy for both the character though the language is bitter the readers could come to know what is the main theme of this short story. Punctuation, words, mood, and tone all are the presentation of the author’s view and association with her national language. The effect of the poem on the readers is that they feel emotional and catchy because of the language used by Jamaica Kincaid.
Rosenberg, Naomi, and Michael Vitez. “Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and the Challenge of Growing Up in Medical Training.” Jama 322.13 (2019): 1238-1239.
Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Women’s Art of the British Empire. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019.
Spencer, Aisha T. “Reshaping Girlhood, Reimagining Womanhood”: The Female Child Protagonist and the Post-diasporic Condition in Jamaican Femaleauthored Children’s Literature.” Caribbean Review of Gender Studies 13 (2019).
Rabea, R.A. and Almahameed, N.A., 2018. Genre Crossing in Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Girl’: From Short Fiction to Poetry. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 9(3), pp.157-165.