Genre Crossing in Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Girl’: From Short Fiction to Poetry

Reem Ahmad Rabea, Nusaiba Adel Almahameed


The paper intends to reread Jamaica Kincaid’s short story, ‘Girl’ (1978) and provide new insights into its understanding. It aims to analyse the poetic qualities, word choice, and structure of the text that are left not fully discussed by recent scholarship. The structure as well as the poetic language of ‘Girl’ make it an unconventional piece of writing falling between two literary categories and so hard to classify. ‘Girl’ apparently violates rules and transgresses conventions by being both poetic and going beyond the traditional fictional structure of a short story. The paper argues that ‘Girl’ is an unconventional piece of literature that crosses the borders of a short story to poetry. First, it obviously lacks the traditional structure to be classified as a short story. Second, the text embraces several poetic techniques which reveal it as poetry written in prose. Therefore, the paper purports to carefully consider the poetic techniques and rhetorical devices found in ‘Girl’ and make it much closer to a prose poem than a short story. The story depicts a pre-adolescent female being dictated by the instructions of a sharp-tongued mother who teaches her how to become a lady- both in the private setting of the house as well as in public- in contrast to what it is like for a woman growing up in Antigua. The paper’s considerations of Kincaid’s depictions of mother, daughter, and their relationship illuminate the poetic traits found including repetition, sound devices and word choice. The paper’s interpretation of ‘Girl’ reveals its poetic nature for being thoroughly repetitive and alliterative piece. The text’s repetitive quality does not only stimulate the reader’s intellectual appreciation of the text’s thematic notions and meanings but also promotes an overall unifying effect.


Jamaica Kincaid, ‘Girl’, Prose Poem, Repetition, Sound Devices, Girl, Woman

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