Using Kincaid's "Girl" in conjunction with Morrison's "Black Matters"

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Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・MLA

Kincaid's prose-poetry "Girl" discusses controversial topics such as segregation, ethnicity, social status, and the way society exploited the girl child in the light of community. Morrison, on the other hand, emphasizes the degree to which African-Americans have become estranged from their cultural norms. Not only does the speaker educate the audience about how knowledge has become Eurocentric, but also about the scarcity of critical facts about morals and history. As a result, Morrison concentrated on popular literature that has been unformed for over four centuries. Nonetheless, the author expressed his concern for the lack of true African representation. In a real African representation, mothers were obliged to impart morality, women obligations among their daughters in order to correspond to the cultural norms, and beliefs as well as expectations of the society.
Kincaid provides a summarized traditional relationship between a mother and a daughter in, which mothers was vigil to guide their daughters while they graduated to womanhood. The girl child was only to follow instructions and only asked questions for clarification. From the tone with which the author narrates the story, the mother is focused on teaching her daughter what it takes to be a woman. The instructions exemplify traditional parenting skills where parents were largely instructive. Thus, the author’s failure to conceptualize some aspects the intents of her mother’s instructions alludes to the conclusion that the measure imposed on them in regards to gender roles was extremely detrimental.
From the onset of the narrative, Kincaid’s mother is riveting into her daughter principles that guided the society, regulated the delegation of functions and construction of a productive community. From a wider perspective, the instructions focus on managing the girl’s behavior as well as how to manage her roles as a woman and the manner in which she is expected to manage her home. In order to be modeled into a woman and a productive member of the society, the instructions are constructed to provide essential information both in the negative and the positive. The positive aspects are to appreciate the appropriate norms while the negative instructions are to provoke criticism that creates an opportunity for one to embrace the desired behaviors and practices in the society.
In the narrative, the mother is pervasively instructive while informing her daughter on what to do and activities to avoid. For example, the girl is instructed on what to cook, things to do outside the house and things to avoid while outside. While outside, the girls are not expected to walk in a scorching with her hair not covered and that it is a moratorium to eat fruits while working on the streets. The information is purposeful in instilling moral characters and behaviors besides learning certain duties. On the contrary, there were some aspects of the instructions which qualify as detrimental and quite stereotypical. Some of the instructions in lieu of promoting positive cultural values encourage immorality. Perhaps in part, an example of what Morrison viewed as a misrepresentation of the true African culture in the US. For example, when the girl is instructed on how to smile differently to the people she knows, those she is less acquainted to, and strangers perfectly describe racism put in another context. Similarly, when the girl is taught on how to prepare medicine in order to terminate the pregnancy, a true and a traditional African culture is not depicted. Abortion was and is prohibited. Therefore, admitting that traditional culture could tolerate racism and immorality is misinformation and an invented Africa put in the American context.
Correspondingly, Kincaid through the narrative is able to reveal the overbearing nature of traditional parents which can be viewed as being detrimental. An audience is able to note that throughout the entire story, the instructions are majorly about what the parent thinks is good for the child and expect the child to adhere and act as per the instructions. Unfortunately, the girl child only had two instances to ask questions; hence, the audience is left uninformed on the possible thoughts and views the girl could be having. There is no point in the narrative where an audience is able to decipher the girl’s displeasure since she is not given chance to express herself. It could have perhaps been due to gender difference that a girl child had no voice in the society and could only be represented. Ironically, the girl is worse referred to as slut or yet to become a slut a sentiment that should not come from a mother who needs and expect good to become of her daughter. In reference to Morrison, referring to a lady as a slut is another instant of the American preserved male view of the African women. No woman in her right sense in regards to criticism would refer to her daughter as a slut if at all she means well. Here again, the African culture and tradition are represented as an imagination of the African cultural norms to portray the American male views, genius, and power.
Nevertheless, Kincaid illustrates certain ills of the society including inequality, gender discrimination, and propagation of stereotypical thoughts and beliefs. From the instructions given to the girl by her mother, some are perfect examples of discrimination of the female gender in the society. Whet the girl is instructed not to play marbles like boys; the instruction is depictive of gender bias in which some activities are preserved for male children. Adhering to such piece of instruction reveals the intense nature of how gender discrimination is deeply rooted in the culture. It shows the manner in which girls were limited to accessing opportunities through limiting them to house chores.
Concisely, various literary pieces of work are meant to represent certain themes including a people’s culture and the different messages that the authors have to put across. Therefore, different authors have different approaches to reaching their audience. Through integration, it is notable that one text can be used by an audience to shade light on another text. Though the views might be expressed from a different point of view, the significance of the contents of one text can give insights into another thereby widening one’s ability to reason, understand, and conceptualize the information from a wider perspective. In this view, it is imperative that Morrison’s piece of work “Black Matter” provides information that assists in the critical analysis of Kincaid’s work “Girl” resulting into in-depth understanding and revelations of different themes present within the work. In this case, the narrative is quite short yet has more information about culture, tradition, and beliefs presented as instructions.

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