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The daughter is the main character of these poems. Although not explicitly stated, she is believed to be an embodiment of Kincaid. Her experiences and attitudes reflect those of Kincaid's own childhood and adolescence. The girl is growing up and learning who she is and where she fits into the world. Her relationship with her mom is the central point of conflict in the story, but she eventually learns to accept the advice and concern of her mother without compromising what she has in mind for herself.
The mother of the girl is trying her best to raise her daughter in good health, safety, and love. In an attempt to make her voice heard and to really connect with her daughter, she reveals intimately personal information, recounting her life story. She confesses fears and concerns. Still a human, she makes mistakes, sending a selfishly motivated letter to the girl in hopes that she would quit her job and move back home out of guilt. In the end, though, she learns to let go just as her daughter learns to take charge.
He makes an appearance in "In the Night." The stepfather doesn't seem to play an influential role in the girl's life. As a man, he is a creature of some mystery to her. She struggles to understand what his is his role in society as a man. The differences between the sexes seems overwhelming to her, especially as a result of her mother's warnings.
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