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'Girl' is a somewhat of a stream-of-consciousness narrative of a mother giving her young daughter advice on important life issues and concerns.The poem is one long sentence of various commands separated by semi-colons.
To an earlier interrogation (“is it true that you sing benna at Sunday school?
”) and its accompanying admonition (“don’t sing benna at Sunday school”), the daughter intimates inaudibly, as she only can (“but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school”).
It concludes abruptly with a rhetorical question from the mother wondering if her daughter didn't understand how to behave based on everything she was told.
There are three central themes to the story: sexual reputation, domesticity, and mother/daughter relationships.
Throughout the story, many of the mother’s directions are aimed at preventing the girl from becoming the “slut” her mother obviously thinks she longs to be.
She directs her not to sing popular music in Sunday school, not to talk to wharf-rat boys for any reason, and not to eat fruit on the street, because it will make flies follow her.
The two-and-a-half-page monologue does not actually include the instructions for all these activities; instead, the parallel clauses introduced with “this is how . .” suggest the ways that adults model behavior for children. At the same time, the mother’s negative tone indicates that she has little hope of her daughter’s growing into decent adulthood, so that the daughter’s two protests create the story’s tension. When the girl asks what to do if the baker will not let her test the bread’s freshness by squeezing it, the mother wonders if her daughter will become the “kind of woman the baker won’t let near the bread.” A West Indian mother orders her daughter to learn how to perform mundane domestic chores (such as washing white clothes and putting them on the stone heap on Monday and washing the colored clothes and putting them on a clothesline to dry on Tuesday).
She also offers her daughter advice ranging from commonsensical health precautions about walking bareheaded in the hot sun and practical tips on cooking pumpkin fritters and soaking salt fish overnight to more intimate advice on personal hygiene.
"Girl" consists of a two-page dramatic monologue in which a considered mother gives advice to her daughter, the "girl." Realizing that her daughter has reached sexual maturity, the mother tells her to be careful and never allow herself to become the "kind of woman the baker won't let near the bread." Like Kincaid’s other short stories, “Girl” is extremely brief and can hardly be said to have a plot, although the reader can easily imagine a dramatic context in which this monologue might be spoken.
The central voice is that of the unnamed mother; the reader must assume that the “girl” of the title is her daughter, although the relationship is never stated.