The author presents a series of advice that the mother gives to the daughter in the Antiguan community. The mother notices that her daughter has reached adolescence and realizes she is the only person to guide her daughter to live a non-promiscuous and respectful life. She imparts general knowledge to the girl on how to perform house chores and be a respectful woman. The mother shows the daughter how to cook, keep a household, and clean the house.
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Besides the domestic knowledge, she advises her on how to interact peacefully with people in society. Her advice suggests that the mothers had a role to play in shaping the lives of the daughters. Kincaid writes, “This is how you set the table for dinner; this is how to behave in front of men” (Kincaid 321). She shows the daughter how she can make her man happy. However, the mother gives her daughter some advice that might harm her, such as teaching her how to prepare abortion drugs. The author writes, “This is how to prepare medicine to throw away a child before it becomes a child” (Kincaid 321).
It showed that she thought her daughter had sexual relations with men or would soon have. The woman expects to raise a responsible woman but not promiscuous girl. In these advice sessions, readers can notice a bitter tone from the mother as she heaps anger and bitterness on her daughter. She already seemed to think that her advice would not make any difference in her daughter’s life, as she was destined to have a bad reputation. However, the advice seems not to have helped the girl as the story ends with a rhetorical question from the mother, as she wonders if the daughter failed to acknowledge how to behave based on the advice she had given her. The mother often repeating the word “slut” identified her daughter in a derogative manner.
Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994.