A girl is a term used to refer to a female being who has not reached adulthood.it is the stage between birth and adulthood, before she is seen to as a woman. A girl is also nicknamed as a “young woman”. The author of the short story “girl” is talking about a daughter receiving guidance from her mother on how to handle herself and the people around her. The daughter was to know how to handle men, how to push through with daily chores and how to maintain her dignity as a young woman. The author further talks about woman empowerment and the rules that govern traditions and customs of the society. (“Definition of GIRL”)
Woman empowerment is defined as the opportunity a girl child is given to deliver what she is right in.Woman empowerment fights for the rights of a girl child whereby, she is supposed to be given equal chances as the boy child on matters like education and responsibilities although some of them differ. Although the locality of the story is not mentioned, it is believed to have come from West Indies because of the traditions and storyline of the people used in it. As the mother was advising the child, she allowed obstruction only when the daughter was justifying herself or when she had a question to ask on the topic discussed. Womanhood is defined as how a woman maintains cleanliness in the house and its environment near her. A woman should not only consider looks or how much makeup she can apply to be seen prettier but how clean she is with house chores.A woman is seen as a keeper. (Shri Harini Media Limited.)
She should be superior when it comes to the environment around the house by ensuring cleanliness. It is seen as suicidal when a woman breaks the rule of purity. Motherly advice is given from one generation to the next generation.it is essential as a girl child to listen and learn to provide the same information to your future children. As part of the opinion, the mother is supposed to teach her daughter the customs and traditions of their community. Customs and traditions are expected to be followed strictly since breaking them is a taboo. The mother in the short story ‘girl” continued advising her daughter on the things she should do and what she should not.She showed her how to set the table for tea, lunch, and supper. Presentation of food is necessary because clean and well-arranged food increases appetite. She was shown how to iron her father’s khaki trousers to avoid creases. This was to prepare her for the ironing of her future husband’s clothes. She was warned against entertaining wharf-rat boys because she would appear as a slut or contract sexually transmitted diseases or get pregnant. She was shown how sweeping of the whole house, the yard and the corners of the house since edges are the hideouts of dust and cobwebs. Smiling is a weapon to express love to people around, so she was shown how to laugh to people she does not like at all, people she likes entirely and those she does not like too much. When planting the okra, it is necessary to grow it away from the house since it is a habitant of red ants that are harmful. (P.228-229)
She was told that sheen requires a lot of water while growing to avoid the itching of the throat while eating. She was taught how to sew buttons and make buttonholes on shirts trousers and dresses. How to make hems on a skirt coming down to avoid people mistaking her for a slut she is not. In the presence of men she does not know well, she was guided on how to behave well to avoid being judged.Squatting to pick marbles was not allowed since she is not a boy. Picking of flowers was not allowed because she would touch things that were not that good. Throwing of stones at the blackbird was also not allowed since she could mistakenly kill other birds thinking they were all blackbirds. She was shown how to make doukona (is a boiled cake made of potato), bread pudding and a pepper pot. These are some of the meals eaten by the West Indians. She was further guided on how to make good medicine for the cold, when to throw medication that was not good for consumption and how the drugs for children are made. She was shown how to soak fish in salt overnight before cooking, how to prepare it, how to throw it back if not needed and how to avoid predicaments. She was shown to differentiate between men who truly loves her, when she is being bullied and when to intimidate a man. Clothes are to be washed daily, and she is supposed to soak white garments immediately they are taken off. White clothes and colored are to be cleaned on different days dried on a stone heap and folded neatly. She is supposed to choose clothes made of cotton with no gum to stretch while washing or drying to avoid loss of shape. (Siqueira)
On Sunday she is not supposed to sing benna in church or give directions to the boys. She should avoid eating on the streets since it is seen as unethical and she may be misquoted. She was shown how to cook pumpkin in hot oil to make them taste yummy. Practice makes perfect. Although she may forget some of the steps taught, she was not supposed to give up but continue trying. She was finally told to behave in her best behavior so that she would not be denied favors if she requested for any or lose her dignity. The girl child was to act as the pillar of the family. She was supposed to take care of the children and the husband. Also, the extended relatives looked up to her for both physical and moral support. Her multitasking ability was to be seen when doing so many tasks at a go just to keep everything in order. The novel summarizes the roles and rights of the girl child. She is taught what to do and what she should fight for instead of letting anyone oppress her. The mother vividly advised her daughter not to give up even if things don’t seem to go the right way. The passage of advice from one generation to another helps in the maintenance of dignity, customs, and traditions from one generation to another. I can conclude by saying the mother in this story was strict since she did not want to be distracted at all while giving advice.it is good for the daughter to listen and learn because she would be the role model to the generation to come. (P.228-229)
“Definition of GIRL.” Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America’s Most-trusted Online Dictionary, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/girl.
Shri Harini Media Limited. “Groups and Discussions on Child Development – Parent circle.” Parenting India Magazine, Parenting Tips, and Advice, Child Development – ParentCircle, www.parentcircle.com/circles/all/.
Siqueira, Renita. “Welcome The Girl Child – Parentcircle.” Parenting India Magazine, Parenting Tips and Advice, Child Development – ParentCircle, 12 July 2017, www.parentcircle.com/article/welcome-the-girl-child.
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