Discussion Jamaica Kincaid

Essay by m lipscombUniversity, Bachelor'sA, August 2004

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One of the questions I can answer for the paper: This work is the story of part of a girl's life, but it's more that that. What are some of the ways Kincaid makes this story universal?

Her first piece of fiction, "Girl" was a liturgy of commands and criticisms in her mother's voice directed to her young daughter.

The poem "Girl" by author Jamaica Kincaid shows love and family togetherness by creating microcosmic images of Western Caribbean familial practices and imbedding them in a seemingly incomprehensible text.

"Girl," the first and probably most important piece of the collection, highlights Kincaid's evocative use of language, as she explores themes of enculturation and the "patriarchal politics of oppression" (263).

In "Girl," a mother offers to her daughter a string of hypnotic, militaristic admonitions: "Wash the clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don't walk barehead in the sun...

soak salt fish overnight before you cook it... on Sundays try to walk like a lady, and not the slut you are so bent on becoming" (3).

Born in Antigua in 1949, Jamaica Kincaid moved to the United States to attend college. Her works are semi-autobiographical, and deal most frequently with two particular themes. The first theme deals with Antigua and island life in the Caribbean. Kincaid captures the essence of the island through realistic images and vivid descriptions. While all of her works treat this theme, her first nonfiction work, A Small Place, deals exclusively with Antigua and the lives and lifestyles of its inhabitants. The second theme Kincaid explores extensively is that of women and their relationships with each other, particularly the mother-daughter relationship. Kincaid writes of mothers and daughters in Annie John, Lucy,