Map: Traces stages of development (baby – > child – > teen – > woman)
Legend: Uses quotes from the story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid as evidence for the conclusions drawn on the map.
Essay: Perpetuation of Internalized Sexism in “Girl” Jamaica Kincaid
“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid is a girl’s recollection of wisdom and advice passed on to her from her mother. “Girl” highlights differing expectations for girls and boys by detailing all the housework – such as sewing, and cooking a girl is expected to learn how to do, with emphasis on what she can do for a man such as “this is how you iron your father’s khaki shirt” and “this is how you behave in the presence of men who do not know you very well” as if what a girl can do for the men in her life determines her worth.
The advice the narrator is dispensing reflects anxiety about societal expectations and judgements of woman in society, and the way those anxieties and sexist attitudes are internalized and passed down through generations. The way sexist attitudes are internalized is highlighted by the repeated phrasing of “slut you are so intent on becoming” and the ending of “after all this are you really going to be the type of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread” blaming a girl and her behavior, rather than the high expectation, and often double standard, of society. A girl could be labeled a slut for behavior such as talking to “wharf-rat boys, even to give directions.” This illustrates the way women are labeled and degraded if they do not conform to societal expectation, and thus are punished for it.
Mays, Kelly J. The Norton Introduction to Literature. Shorter Twelfth Edition., Norton, 1985. “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, p. 184-185.
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