The short story of “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid is about a mother and her relationship with her daughter. It is a harsh one sided conversation between the narrator and her mother, with the mother doing all the talking. The story gives a rich description of what her mother expects from her in all aspects of her life, from chores, to how she plays, to what she sings in church. From each line you see the viewpoint of how her mother sees the world, what is proper in her eyes and her expectations for her daughter. Throughout the story the symbolism gives deeper meaning to every verse and shows deeper insight to their relationship.
One of the first symbols is in the first line is the color white. The use of the color white is foreshadowing the tone for the whole short story. White represents pure, virgin, and clean. The mother is reprimanding her child for the way she walks “on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you so bent on becoming” (380). The narrator’s mother already has concerns of her daughter becoming sexually promiscuous and tarnishing her reputation. The mother’s tone is harsh throughout the whole short story. She is demanding her daughter does these things as she dictates. This is not a sweet moment between a mother and her daughter. The conversation is laced with insults and fears. The mother also warns her daughter about eating on the street “don’t eat fruit on the street-flies will follow you” (380). Flies are seen as bottom feeders, dirty and irritating and when flies are surrounding an animal it is seen as filthy. She is telling her daughter that she will be seen as dirty if her fruits are out for everyone to see.
This has to do with being covered and not letting everyone stare at you. This supports her idea that her daughter will become promiscuous and not respectable. Another symbol example is the importance on clothing. The mother cautions “when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn’t have gum on it, because that way it won’t hold up after a wash” (380). The mother’s emphasis on clothing highlights her view of how you dress is a reflection of you as a person. Its gives insight to your character and personality that you take pride in how you look. Clothing is used cover your body, when you are covered you are seen as respectable in her community. In the conversation “this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming” (380)