Sunday, September 28, 2008

Flashes From Childhood

       The story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid offers a myriad of glimpses into the rearing of a little girl.  However, what makes this story interesting is that there is no chronology or pattern to the way the glimpses are presented.  The reader hears the words of a mother to her child in flashes of insight, common sense, and even derogatory remarks.  Reading this story is much like reminiscing about the past because pieces of the past come one by one in a continuous flood without a clear order.  The story covers a mothers words about things such as laundry, cooking, shopping, and sewing.  Sometimes the mother talks to her daughter about deeper things such as morality, modesty, and sexuality.  There are miscellaneous remarks because the mother has advice to give about everything there is to do or see in life.  “…don’t squat down to play marbles…don’t throw stones blackbirds…”  The daughter also makes remarks to her mother.  “But I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school…but what if the baker won’t let me touch the bread?”  The daughter’s last remark about the bread is important because it allows the mother to sum up the story with, “you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?”  This statement shows how everything we heard through the story was all about the mother’s desire to bring up a respectable and strongly moral child.  She sees her daughter in the future, as a woman who the baker would gladly let touch the bread.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I agree with Clint that one of the most interesting aspects of "Girl" is the lack of chronological order to the story. The disorder of the story points to the disorder youth must pass through before "it" all makes sense - a process called maturation("it" being life in general). This lack of order speaks volumes of the obstacles facing all youth, as growing up entails more than just learning etiquette, responsibility, work ethic, etc. Rather, growing up is about weaving all that is learned from parents - and all other contributors to youthful growth - with real-life experience gained through personal failures and successes. The abruptness of the story forces the reader to link their own experiences to each quip, reagardless of sex, to form a complete understanding of and relation to the story.
However, the specifics of what is conveyed from mother to daughter is moot. This story reminds the reader of just how confusing growing up is, as evident of only snippets of advice and direction are remembered except for the end. The end of the story as indicated by Clint shows the specificity of a child's memory in remembering certain things and not others. I will always remember my mother telling me from as early as the age of four how to address, write and send Thank You notes after Christmas or a birthday because I want to show "how much older I am" to those that send me presents; by older, my mother conveyed the responsibility I had to relatives, friends and family to demonstrate my growth as a person, my appreciation for their time and resulting gifts, etc., leading to more/better gifts as equal to my maturity, similar to "Girl." Like "Girl," I couldn't recognize what she meant by this at the time, but after putting others together, along with life expereiences, it's blatantly obvious now what little details actually can mean in the long run.