At the Bottom of the River
How Narrative Structure Can Send a Message College
Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl communicates strong messages about both society’s expectations of women, and the way that certain things told to someone can have a large impact on them. The piece is written in the form of a continuous list. This style emulates our inner stream of consciousness and emphasizes the many messages expressed in the story and their lasting impact. The narrative form does a lot for the story, creating deeper meaning, and allowing the speaker to connect to readers more effectively.
Kincaid highlights the overbearing expectations of women in society through the story’s list consisting of countless demands. Though it does not directly address who is speaking or giving the orders, they can be interpreted as lessons and cautionary advice given by a mother or mentor figure to a “Girl,” like the one referenced in the title. The list can be seen as the girl’s inner thoughts, as she recalls what has been told to her, the messages running through her mind. The commands are given as guidance and explain standards to the girl, telling her to “always eat your food in such a way that it won’t turn someone else’s stomach,” and to “try to walk like a lady.” The girl acts as a symbol for all girls, and the list of commands can...
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