Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”
1. Critic Suzanne Freeman has suggested, “What Kincaid has to tell me, she tells, with
her singsong style, in a series of images that are as sweet and mysterious as the secrets
that children whisper in your ear.” Following on Freeman‟s observation, characterize
Kincaid‟s style. What are its specific components? In what ways is the story “sweet and
mysterious”? How does Kincaid convey so much in such a short space?
Doesn‟t give space to breathe which shows a form of expression. The physical
state of being stressed. It shows directive instruction in single sentences.
She shows great concern for how child present herself. The title gives a stage of
development. It shows mother love, no grief, and you can finally interpret when
the story is over.
You have to watch the video instead of reading it because some actions are shown
in the video in which the reader does not know in the sentences.
The mother only wants to protect the child from being a „slut‟ and become what
they don‟t want the child to be.
2. What is the effect of fairly precise household rules alternating with comments such as
“on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming”?
What do you think of the mother? What do you think of the daughter? What do your
answers to these questions suggest about the nature of this mother-daughter relationship?
Worry for her daughter to dress properly. A controlling and demanding individual
Urgently to teach daughter. Is there an emergency we don‟t know about?
3. What do you see as the central conflict in the story?
Rhythms (no stop)
A girl‟s role is shown
If you don‟t do what I say, you‟re a slut.
Question of family
Uphold family value and people‟s expectation
4. Some of the advice given seems like it could never have been spoken, but only
inferred: “this is how you smile to someone you don‟t like too much; this is how you
smile to someone you don‟t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like
completely.” Consider the story as a form of interior monologue instead of a record of the
mother‟s actual voice. If the story is an interior monologue and not a dialogue, how does
this change in voice/point of view affect the story‟s meaning?
Internal monologue which adds on insanity to mother (odd run-on sentence
structure). Family value (may have caused mother to be bipolar because of pressure in
society. Insecurity of mother-caused her to be crazy due to society, media, and
5. Discuss the implications of the line, “this is how to make a good medicine to throw
away a child before it even becomes a child.” What do you think of the mother offering
this advice to her daughter?
Safe-don‟t have a child.
Do not be a housewife/mother
6. Consider gender. Is it possible to re-imagine the story as advice from father to son?
What does this in turn suggest about expectations placed on women versus those placed
Sexist view of how woman are suppose to act.
View should be similar in men. There is gender role in society where women are
supposed to be clean, supportive, loving housewife. Men are posed to be strong,
brave aggressive, orderly, working.
Women have lower standards
Slut, if you don‟t do what mother says.
David Foster Wallace, “Incarnations of Burned Children”
1. Analyze and discuss the story‟s style in terms of “hysterical realism”—the use of
extravagant language in the treatment of everyday events. In what specific ways does
Wallace construct sentences to heighten the story‟s hor