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INGL 3103-L81 Intermediate English José A.

Lorenzo Matos

Date 10/3/13 Essay # 1

Oppressed? Or self-oppressed?

The story “Girl” is a mother's list of directives to her daughter. She intends to both, help her daughter and scold her at the same time. The author Jamaica Kincaid allows “Girl's” voice to break through the mother's speech only twice. I think the mother's life has been dictated by the oppression she has experienced as a woman living in Antigua. Also I think this oppression or feeling is not entirely directed to women, but is something common in Antigua, were women ends being the more affected gender. Kincaid is a descendent of Caribbean slaves, as most of the Antiguans, she experienced the discrimination and oppression that were the legacy of slavery. Many critics have read the mother's monologue as a sort of indoctrination to the oppressive and sexist power structure in Antigua.

In the story the mother warns “Girl” about being promiscuous; she seems to believe the girl is on her way to becoming a “slut”. I think the mother seems to be passing the fear and shame that have been part of her own experience as a woman. The chores and behaviors are more directly related to a woman's duties to men, such as ironing a man's clothes, along with advices about household chores and cooking. She seems to be resigned to the fact that “Girl” lives in a world where she will be defined not only by her ability to perform domestic duties, but also by her ability to hide her sexuality. We can see that in this example “how to behave in the presence of men who don't know you very well, and this way they won't recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming.”

For example when the mother tells the girl “not to squat while playing marbles. Her instructions suggest that community plays a large role in Antiguans’ lives and that social standing within the community bears a great deal of weight. No selfimprovement. A woman must know how to cook. There are no instructions for how to make one happy. not to sing any Antiguan folk songs in Sunday school. specially the womens. Ultimately the mother seems to imply that “Girl” is responsible for her own oppression and that her daughter has become a social outcast. oppressed women. Despite independence. that have been forced to live as housewives of slaves. or how to talk with people she doesn’t like”. who are no longer slaves but don’t feel that they can be or do something better. The warnings and assumptions indicate the importance of the suppression of female sexuality and the feeling of oppression. We can see. We can notice that the mother’s behavior clearly reflects the Antiguans. wives of oppressed men. Later. no dreams. or travel or a career. a “slut” when she responds to the daughter’s innocent question. many of the . She does not speak of school.In Antigua is very common that men work and the woman stays in the house. always walk like a lady. and keep a household and know how to act around different types of people. that the mother understands a woman's “place” because her culture holds women in a position of dependence to men. But what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread? 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? In her essay A Small Place Kincaid addresses the colonizers implying that they are the oppressors and have destroyed the behavior and the wealth of her country. Public appearances are very important and subtle differences among those appearances are also significant. What the girl may want is not important. The mother’s speech is a conscious initiation into the expected behaviors of a woman. clean. Kincaid confronts the people of Antigua suggesting that they have become complicit in their own oppression by not freeing themselves from foreign control and culture.

They continue working on sugar plantations. people who are no longer slaves. people that doesn’t have the will to step up and do something better or different. I think many of this people live with no satisfaction in their lives. like Kincaid did. fearing to make different choices passing down these fears from generation to generation. like the mother.descendants of these slaves still live in poverty there. where conditions and wages kept them dependent on their former masters. no being oppressed. but live in self-oppression. . thanks to the oppressive structure the former colonizers left.