Girl | Study Guide

Jamaica Kincaid

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Course Hero. "Girl Study Guide." May 31, 2019. Accessed August 17, 2022.


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Girl | Symbols



The mother cautions her daughter not to throw stones at blackbirds, "because it might not be a blackbird at all." This comment likely arises from a belief in obeah, a Caribbean system of spiritual beliefs and practices. The blackbird may be some sort of spirit. Its inclusion along with the mother's more banal instructions on how to behave in society symbolizes the importance of these beliefs and indicates that obeah pervades everyday life.


The mother cautions her daughter always to squeeze bread to make sure it's fresh. When the daughter protests the baker might not let her squeeze the bread, the mother asks if the girl is really "going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread." From this the reader can conclude a respectable woman is allowed to touch the bread. The bread becomes a symbol of everything the mother is trying to teach her daughter, and of the social acceptance she wants for her.

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