At the Bottom of the River

Representations of Caribbean Women in “Girl” College

Mothers usually have their children’s best interest at heart, guiding them through life at an attempt to prevent offspring from repeating their own mistakes. In the short story, “Girl,” Kincaid depicts her teenage years after her mother gave birth to Kincaid’s three younger brothers in succession. The psychological perspective of this story raises many questions from critics on whether or not the mother’s state of mind and outlook on women altered after she gave birth to her three sons. Kincaid’s story amplifies there is an importance in cultural standards, gender roles and sex, and behaviors among Caribbean women. Throughout the story, the speaker portrays herself to be the mother and gives her daughter advice in several different areas of life, which greatly confuses Kincaid.

According to Kincaid, in the Caribbean culture, there may be more reinforced, strict, and ridged expectations of gender roles. In the story, Kincaid’s Caribbean mother reinforces these ideals by making it clear she is trying to help Kincaid reach this standard which the mother, herself, likely grew up in. The mother makes a mention of her childhood standards by stating: “Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap,” and continues...

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