A “Girl” and Her Mother

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At The Millions, Naa Baako Ako-Adjei discusses reading Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” through the lens of her relationship with her own mother growing up, and her new understanding of the story fifteen years later:

In my rereading of “Girl,” I also realized that I never noticed how transgressive the story is. The mother’s liturgy about behaving well so people won’t think you are a slut is partly about pretense; about maintaining a public facade in a culture that demands prudishness from its women. “This,” the mother tells her daughter casually, “is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child” before she immediately moves on to how to “catch a fish.”


Katie O'Brien is an English major at Cornell University, where she writes for kitsch magazine, DJs for a rock station, and complains about the cold. Find her on Twitter @abluekite. More from this author →