Saturday, September 1, 2007

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid

Follow the link and read the following story "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid.

Then, continue the discussion about point of view and characterization, using this piece, "Bullet in the Brain", and/or "The Last Judgment".
For "Girl", a good starting point is to think about "both" characters in this piece and what they are like. But, don't limit your reaction to that.

Overall question: In these pieces, how do the authors create their characters? How do they shift them (the characters) by using other characters, altering the point of view, tone, etc.? What is your overall impression of the work or the characters?

Good luck. Be sure to reference the text when commenting.

(PS - Period Two, since you are little ahead, avoid the temptation to reference the Salinger story.)

65 comments:

Mr. Walsh said...

Notice that you can listen to the story being read at the top. This is awesome!!!!! Read first, then compare it with how it sounded in your head. Feel free to talk about this.

This site does contain some critical pieces on the work if you navigate it - though each aid device stops short from really addressing some of the issues in the text that I hope you explore. If you notice the aid stuff on the site asks you another question to help you along - if you are stuck on what to write about, use these questions to instigate your thoughts.

Use these pieces only as a guide though and do not pass them off as your own thoughts.

Kellie L 4 said...

In the story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid and “Bullet in the Brain” by Wolff, the characters are portrayed as real people living everyday life. I think that the author of both stories created their characters through personal experiences and based upon the situation the character was put in. Throughout the stories, these characters shift their personalities like Aners. In the beginning of the story, Anders is portrayed as a book critic that criticized everything and didn’t seem like he cared about anything. The moment he is shot, we learn that he had a family, and wasn’t as mean as he was acting in the beginning of the story. Anders’ character was shifted by the bank robbers just as the girl in Jamaica Kincaid’s story. In the beginning, supposedly the mother is telling the girl what kind of person she is going to be and the girl defends herself. Throughout the story, the mother keeps making remarks about what a horrible person she is going to grow up to be. At the end, the girl isn’t as defensive which shifts her character. I think that the girl’s mother was trying to make her daughter stronger by telling her these things because the mother seemed surprised when her daughter got less defensive and somewhat disappointed. Both of these characters alter the audience’s point of view because in the beginning, we see Anders as a hateful critic and the girl as very confident. But, at the end we learn the Anders is really a caring man and the girl is less sure of what she will grow up to be. Overall, I think that the author wanted us to see how much a character can change over time or even over a simple conversation as in “Girl”.

Elaine T 4 said...

The two authors, Wolff and Jamaica Kincaid, are both writing about people you’d meet or see everyday in real life; the book critic, a mother and a daughter. Both authors start off their stories by having the main character or characters doing everyday life things like going to the bank after a long day of work or teaching a daughter the proper way to do things and telling her to grow up properly. Aside from the beginning and who the stories are about, Wolff and Kincaid’s styles of writing are similar too. They both tell the story through the character’s perspective and slowly reveal how the characters feel and who they really are. For example, both authors use what the characters are most familiar with or do by habit to reveal their personality. In “Bullet in the Brain,” Wolff had Anders constantly remarking to everything said, done or everything that he saw because that was his job as a book critic, to comment on things. All his derogatory remarks revealed a lot of his character. From his sarcasms and bitter aura you could sense that Anders was a negative person. But throughout the story with the scenes and events brought up, you started to see that Anders isn’t as bitter as you’d think he is, his true self is revealed. In “Girl,” Kincaid has the mother telling her daughter how to sweep the floor and do the housework that you can tell that the mother does these things on a daily basis. These chores aren’t just chores, they’ve become part of who she is and is what molded her to become who she is. You can tell the mother is at peace when she’s doing these duties, and that they keep her in check and she’s trying to pass that down to her daughter. The mother is trying to pass the act of doing housework down to her daughter so her daughter would also be in check in life and not stagger onto the wrong path while growing up.

Mr. Walsh said...

Kellie wrote this,"I think that the girl’s mother was trying to make her daughter stronger by telling her these things because the mother seemed surprised when her daughter got less defensive and somewhat disappointed."

What does everyone else think?

Belinda L 4 said...

Characters are changed in both short stories, A Bullet in the Brain by Wolf, and Girl by Kincaid. In A Bullet in the Brain, Anders is showed to us right away as a crabby man that gets annoyed and tempered easily. In our class discussion it seemed we have agreed that the way Anders act is probably a result of his occupation as a book critic. Another reason why I think Anders has this attitude is because of his childhood past that we find out about when Wolf takes us into his brain right before Anders die. Anders seemed to have problems with his parents being abusive to each other. In the memory, Wolf changes Anders character to show a side of him that would never be thought of from the beginning. Even for the very last memory that Anders had, he remembered how he was as a little kid when he was afraid to comment on another boy’s grammar. This, I think is a huge difference for Anders who is now commenting as a natural habit, on everything he can. On the other hand, Girl, by Kincaid, depicts a mother teacher her daughter how to become a proper lady. I agree with both Kellie and Elaine that the daughter at first was very confident and secure about herself and who she is. She seems to be pretty sure of how to live her life already like every teenager might see at that time. Her mother continues to go on with the teaching and also continues to accuse her of becoming a “slut.” Later the mother changes tones by teaching her things like how to bully a man, how to love a man, and also how to spit in the air and don’t let it fall on you. In the change of the mother’s tone, I feel like she is insisting to her daughter that being proper is very important, but she also needs time just to relax and needs to know how to have fun. The mother also talks about “how to make good cold medicine” and how to get rid of a baby before it becomes a baby. It shows that the mother has been through a lot and does not want her to make the same mistakes. Maybe the mother’s mother said the same things to her but she kept her confidence and resulted in having to use the medicine, or how to make a man love you. The daughter at the end responds to the mother in a not so sure way making it seem that she understands where her mother is coming from. The mother then answers with a question sort of indicating that after all that she will still become an improper lady that the baker “won’t let near the bread.”

Ngoc D. 4 said...

In both short stories, “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid and “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff, by using a situation, the authors are able to alter the point of view of the readers toward the character. In the short story “Bullet in the Brain”, at first, Anders is introduced as a man that picks at and critiques everything around him. Even though he has a gun pointing under his chin, he still critiques how ugly the art in the ceiling are. At this point, most readers would have gotten annoyed with Anders’ attitude and would want the gunman to put a stop to Anders. However, when the readers finished the story and understood where Anders came from, they would have felt bad that they judged Anders too some. To create this change in the thought of the readers, Wolff carefully changes his tone and leads the reader through Anders’ life in which illustrates Anders to be a man that have a family, a childhood and like discussed, his career shaped who he is now.
Similar with “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, the author led the readers through a journey that changes the way they view the characters. Right from the beginning, by the content of the Mom’s directions, it shows that the mom is picky and demanding, telling her daughter to “wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry.” Just starting, the readers would think that this is just some regular Mom who is just telling her daughter to do the household chores. However, as the story progresses, the Mom’s directions changed from doing laundry to “how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child”, how to spit, and how to love. The Mom keeps telling her daughter all of these directions so that the daughter will not become a slut. By changing the subject of the mother’s directions, the author reveals that this is not just any ordinary mom, that this mom has experienced all of those things. Even though the daughter has two inputs in the whole story, it speaks a lot for the girl. At the beginning, she sounds so sure of herself, that she did not sing Benna on Sundays. Nevertheless, at the end, she sounds less sure of herself, doubting if the “baker won't let [her] feel the bread”. Because the mother had gone through all of these things, that’s why now the mother is teaching her daughter how to not become a “slut”.
What I found interesting is how “Girl” is written all in one sentence. In just one sentence, yet it speaks so much. I also really like how the author ended the story. After all that the mother has taught her what to do and what not to do, the daughter is worry that the baker won’t let her touch the bread. To me, it sounds like the daughter is saying “but what if I’m going to become a slut” because people doesn’t want someone who does not look sophisticated touching their bread.

Victoria P. 4 said...

At first when I read “Girl”, I thought that the mother was a really cruel and mean person. All the things she was telling her daughter were good things to know how to do in your life, but she kept on calling her daughter names and basically saying she didn’t know much. The way that the mother critics her daughter reminded me of how Anders from “Bullet in the Brain” critics all of the people in his life. Even though Anders has his family he still had a lot of bad things to say about them. The mother in “Girl” had way too many rules and responsibilities for her daughter. I think that both authors have based their stories on very realistic life styles. Not all, but a lot of what the mother was telling her daughter made me think of what my mother or someone else’s mother would tell them. For instance “this is how you sweep a yard”, or “this is how you make ends meet”. On the other hand, my mother would never call me a “slut” or make me feel bad about myself. I think that both characters have a weird way of showing affection but deep down inside they both have a softer side to themselves. You can really see the softer side of Anders once he gets shot in the head and has flashback of a memory he must have really cherished.

Mr. Walsh said...

People are picking up on the idea of critiquing in the text - there is probably some irony in writing critiques about characters who are clearly critical.

Good job noticing the long sentence. Nice job relating to yourself in parts.

Those of you who have yet to respond, look for other things in the form of "Girl" that may be interesting or add to understanding.

Keep going with the last line of "Girl", too. There is ton of meaning for the characters, the reader, and (if you look at the notes on the web page) Kincaid's culture.

I hope you are having fun.

Chloe C 2 said...

One thing that struck me when thinking back to all of the short stories we have read is the idea of identity. “Bullet in the Brain” has Anders remember a memory that comes to define him, with time. During the last moments of his life, Anders remembers who he once was and realizes who he is. Kugler of “The Last Judgment” was not intending to find out the person he really is. God does the discovering for him when he describes all of the deeds he has done, mentioning some good parts of him as well. Kugler must realize that he has some good qualities because God said he knew all of him, and therefore could not judge. God knew exactly who Kugler was even if Kugler himself was not so sure.
The girl of “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid is going against her mother’s image of her. The mother wants her daughter to be the perfect wife. But the girl dislikes that image. So while the mother is practically giving her child a new identity and simultaneously insulting her, the girl thinks about what she really wants. She considers being the trophy wife as she asks the question “but what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread?” The question also suggests that she doesn’t think herself to be the kind of woman who would be allowed to touch bread when she grows up, subtly suggesting that the girl will remain who she is.

Martin D 2 said...

"Bullet in the Brain:"
"You can really see the softer side of Anders once he gets shot in the head and has flashback of a memory he must have really cherished." I agree with Victoria on the fact that you start to have empathy for Anders once you learn more about his life. They say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. This is not the case in the story, the author made it that Anders did not remember those things, but we still know it through the text, in which I found this very interesting.

"Girl":
The girl’s mom seems to nag her about the littlest thing, similar to my mom when she lectures me. It's very annoying.
"These chores aren’t just chores, they’ve become part of who she is and is what molded her to become who she is." I like how Elaine said this and it’s true. When you think about it, when we finally achieve independence, and go far far far away, there is no escape. Our family will follow and are always with us—in our habits, gestures,...etc. In the end, all her mom wants is for her daughter to be a good person.


Also I want to point out this quote "don't squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy" I mean so what if she isn't a boy? Your gender does not exclude you from playing a game. What do you guys think?

Consuelo T 2 said...

I think the authors Jamaica Kincaid and Tobias Wolff both seemed to kind of create their characters form their own experiences, or maybe from everyday people. I know it relates to a bit because my mother tells me what to do all the time. In both stories our perceptions of the characters changes towards the end of the story. Like in “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid I saw her as a nagging and being critical mother who seemed kind of mean for referring her as a “slut” .However when I reached the end of the story I realized that she was doing it with good intentions. She’s just trying to make her a better person, like tough love in a way.
In the story “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff, the perception of Anders changes as well. In the beginning we think that Anders is a foulmouthed, cruel man, so we thought badly of him. However the instant he gets shot we get a look at his past. So many things happen during his life. One moment is specific changes our perception of Anders “the others will think he’s a jerk for ragging on the kid for his grammar”. We see here that he was actually nice, that he was not always such a bad guy. So you feel a sort of guilt for him. I liked how the books made you altered your opinion of the character.

DAvid T 2 said...

When I read “Girl”, by Jamaica Kincaid, I immediately thought that the speaker was cruel and mean. This was also how I felt about Anders in “Bullet in the Brain”, by Tobias Wolff. At the beginning of both short stories, the authors make both characters mean and they make us hate them. As you continue reading the story though, you start to see a different side to the characters. In “Bullet in the Brain”, we get a glimpse at what Anders had gone through to make him the way he is now, the moment he got shot. The author makes us fell guilty for disliking him. In “girl”, the supposed “mother” is trying to take control of her daughter and acting like a dictator. She tells her daughter what to do and plans her life out. The more I read the story, the more I saw the daughter as a slave. What the mother was planning for her daughter made her future look miserable. But, the mother also gives the daughter advice on how to have fun and how to control her love life.
“…but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread?”
The daughter seems insecure about herself and she doesn’t have a lot of confidence. When her mother hears this, she tries to give the daughter some confidence. The message I see is telling the daughter not to let some lousy person control her life. She is in control and she should be able to do what she wants.

How do we know that it is a mother talking to her daughter? Could it be that the person who is speaking is the daughter mocking her mother? How do you know that the character isn’t schizophrenic? It might not be important, but it’s something you could consider.

Lynn T. 4 said...

I took Mr. Walsh's advice and listened to the story "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid. When I read the story, the voice I heard was a mother's voice, it was harsh and scolding. I thought she was demanding her daughter to become all these things-- not a boy and not a slut. She just wanted to prevent her daughter from becoming a person that baker won’t allow to touch the bread. When I listened to the audio, the voice was much older and the tone of the story was calmer. The voice sounded wiser, kind of like she had many years of experience. However, even though it was a long lecture, it sounded like she was only going to say this once, and because she knew her girl would listen by the way she was raised ever since she was born. The mother seems to know a lot about chores and being well-mannered. She knows all the secrets like you have to “soak salt fish overnight before you cook it”, or how to “iron your father's khaki shirt so that it doesn't have a crease.” After reading the entire story it felt like she had experienced it once. How would she know all the remedies to these mistakes without once going through it and who would know more than a person that did experience it? After further researching the website you also find out that they are an African American family, and "benna” is music from the first slaves in their region. When the mother says “don't sing benna in Sunday school”—it directly means don’t sing it, but why? Since they are African American they weren’t very high in society. Her mother could be teaching her how act like she was high in society when she wasn’t. She didn’t want her to become, maybe what her mother was, or her grandmother, and etc… She just wants her to live a better life that she had. I am actually unclear about how the girl changed. When she says in the beginning, “I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday School,” It sounds like an assertive comment as opposed to in the end when she questions “but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?” At this point she is questioning herself, even after he mother’s long rant. It sounds like she is not sure. I thought the daughter was already well raised, but still unsure. However that is all I got from her character. I actually was able to characterize a lot more about the mother; to me she seemed like the main character. You can see that she once had to set a table for someone important (maybe she was a slave?), she loved a man, she was rejected, and she knew how to forget about it and move on. She is confident and well-assured about herself, and she wants her daughter to be. I think she just wants to prepare her daughter.
In our class discussion last week, I remember how we all said the narrator in “Bullet in the Brain” was sarcastic, and then he got serious when it came to death. There is actually a short, 15 minute movie on you-tube. In that video the voice was so much calmer, and monotone throughout the entire movie. The movie had a different direction though, they focused more on the fact that, any word, could affect anyone. It was easier to characterize in “Bullet in the Brain” then in “Girl” because it was someone talking about Anders as opposed to reading between their dialogues. I thought that he was so bored by his job, because every story sounded the same. When there was nothing innovative in books, the world became his book. It’s hard to write something about how he changed because it seems like everybody has already covered it. However the story is kind of backwards. The reader doesn’t realize until Ander’s flashback that he had a life that was carefree when he was younger, when he just lived life spontaneously. He had loved, had a wife, and a kid, but you don’t know this until the end. Although you learn that he was once compassionate, he isn’t changing in a good way, he changed into what he is in the beginning on the story.
I noticed that so far Chloe was the only one who commented about "The Last Judgment" by Karel Capek. I agree with her completely, when you read the story you find out all the horrible crimes that he has committed. Then in the end when God says he is "only the witness." He says "My knowledge is infinite. If judges knew everything, absolutely everything, then they would also understand everything. Their hearts would ache. They couldn't sit in judgment--and neither can I. As it is, they only know about your crimes. I know all about you. The entire Kuglar. And that's why I cannot judge." When I read that, I envisioned God speaking to Kuglar, and Kuglar is just shocked by what he says. In the beginning on the story on page 172, Kuglar remembers what happens back to his childhood. He is able to comment on what God tells him about what he did as a child, but he doesn't say anything when God tells him he knows how he feels, and what he thinks. You would also think a murderer was heartless, but he “loved his mother dearly” he stole a rose for Irma, and he had an “unfaithful sweetheart.” I still wonder though, why did he feel like he had to act out? I also have heard from religious people, they say that God is only person who can judge me. In this case he isn’t, he is merely a witness. In that case who is allowed to judge you?

nashally t 2 said...

When I started reading "Girl" I was wondering why the speaker was being cruel to the the other character. Maybe it was to help her out but it could have all been said in a nicer way. I agree with the question "How do we know that it is a mother talking to her daughter?" because it doesnt say anywhere how they were related. It could be two sisters, or even friends. I think i see where the speaker is coming from though. The other character could have done something to make the speaker tell her all these things. In a way the speaker is only trying to help her to become a better woman. As the story continues I felt a different way about the speaker. Like in the beginning I was wondering why she was being so mean to her. But towards the end I see that shes not trying to be mean but trying to get her to realize things. And in the end I didnt think the speaker was as mean but just looking out for her. Like the part where it says "always squeeze bread to make sure it's fresh; but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread?" its like shes giving her all this advice and thats all she has to say. So the speaker is disappointed that shes not taking this information and changing. Now in the story "Bullet in the Brain" I had the same reaction. you see this guy Anders being such a jerk and so uptight. But once he died you see the good side of Anders which gives you a completely different opinion about him. The stories shares a whole different side of Anders that we couldnt see by just seeinghow he acted during the robbery. So looking at both stories you can see how both writers writing style is similar. Both stories have the readers changing their opinions about the characters completely.

Hillary D 2 said...

In “Girl”, I see it as the mother being cruel when she says,”…this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming…” Instead of being a good mother and warning her child to not be influenced by the bad people surrounding her, she assumes the girl is going to become a slut anyways. I listened to the story being read aloud and it sounded exactly what I thought it would sound like – proper and serious. The girl doesn’t know what to say or if she should even react to what her mother is teaching her. The girl reminds me of all those people Kugler killed in “The Last Judgment”. Both the girl and the victims were innocent and couldn’t really do anything in their situations. I see the mother’s character similar to Anders’ character in “Bullet in the Brain.” Anders’ wasn’t always a critic and didn’t always hate the world. Something must’ve happened in his past to make him the way he is now and I suspect that is the mother’s situation also. Perhaps the mother’s mother taught her these things and spoke to her the same way she is speaking to the girl right now. After reading Elaine’s comment, I agree even though the mother acts the way she does, it’s just the way she is. I think she may not be aware of the things her daughter is getting out of the name-calling. I also see Kellie’s point when she said, “I think that the girl’s mother was trying to make her daughter stronger by telling her these things…” In a way, the mother is getting her daughter ready for the world and for living a typical life of a wife and mother one day.

Jen-T 4 said...

When I read the story "girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, I really didnt understand the point of it all. The only thing that crossed my head was why did this mother keep bothering her daughter about acting like a lady and trying to teach her all of these lfe lessons. I guess I understand how the mother cared about her daughter and how she was trying to prepare her for the real world and how she was teaching her how to be independent, but the thing that bothered me about the story was that I thought the mother was obsessing about it a little too much. It said in the story how she didnt want her daughter to go play marbles because she wasnt a boy and I interpretted as the mother wanted her daughter to be a perfect little lady, but at an age that young I can understand why the daughter was getting so defenssive. That line also made my think about "A Bullet In The Brain" for many reasons. It made me think that maybe Anders parents treated him the same way. TO stop playing baseball with his friends all the time and to start consentrating on what he wanted to do when he grew up and provideing for his future family. I think that maybe because his parents put so much pressure on him that he became bitter which is why he picked his job as a book critic, so he could have a negative say on everything, like an escape. The way her mother was treating her in the story made me think of other stories I have read in the past such as "Tuck Everlasting". How the girls parents put so much pressure on her to look perfect and act like a lady and do all these things she didnt want to do which in the story made her rebel and run away from her house. I think that both stories "Girl" and "A Bullet in the Brain" have many similarities from both the characters emotions and the authors style of writing.

Jeniffer M 2 said...

When I first read "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, I felt that the mother was telling her daughter all these things to make her appreciate her more. After I listened to it, the part that caught my attention was the ending, when the mother says, "you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread?" This made me wonder if the daughter was leaving the home and going off to live on her own, because these all seem to be instructions on how to handle things on your own and she wouldn't be telling her this unless she was going to be on her own. Another thing I noticed is that this whole story is written in 2nd person, which makes us put ourselves into the young girl's shoes and realize how many things need to be done, and perhaps the young girl is overwhelmed by all these chores. With all these details Kincaid gives, it's easy to establish that the character is a housewife who cleans the house and feeds the family, as many of you said. As for comparing this short story with "Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolff, Wolff changes the reader's opinion of the character by stating all the things he's had to go through, making us feel sorry for him. But Kincaid only changed my opinion of the mother when I listened to the way she said it. For example, the name(s) she'd call her daughter made me think she was an angry woman, but when I listened to it, she seemed more disappointed and unsure of her daughter's future. Finally, I agree with David T, when he wonders "How do we know that it is a mother talking to her daughter?"

Mr. Walsh said...

Some really great things are being said. I like how many of you are noticing how through the 2nd person, Kincaid places us as the daughter. Go with this. What is the effect? Mood?

Think about placement in "Last Judgment" and issue of time in "Bullet".

The issue in "The Last Judgment" of God as the witness could go in many directions with a few of you mentioned. Look at this. We didn't talk about theme at all with this.

Again, great job responding to one another. Those just joining, don't be overwhelmed. Pose some questions, bring in questions that go beyond point of view and character. Many have started talking about theme and tone. These are areas that have just been scratched.

I hope you like the stories. It seems many of you have a strong reaction to Girl. Feel free to explore this.

I wanted to quote Lynn here and feel maybe this could open up a debate:
"I actually was able to characterize a lot more about the mother; to me she seemed like the main character. You can see that she once had to set a table for someone important (maybe she was a slave?), she loved a man, she was rejected, and she knew how to forget about it and move on. She is confident and well-assured about herself, and she wants her daughter to be." -

In "Girl", Who is the main character? What do we know about the mother? What about the title?
What patterns do you see?

Have fun!

Mr. Walsh said...

Just saw the youtube clip that Lynn mentioned. You can run your own search of youtube by typing in "Bullet in the Brain". It should be the first video that pops up.

Comment about this as well. The actors and director take many liberties, particularly about where they start the story and Anders' character.

Enough of me posting, this is your blog.

Marissa G 4 said...

In "Bullet in the Brain" at the beginning of the story you think that Anders is a guy who dosent care what anyone thinks ( I mean he is the critic) but then they tell you the story of when he was younger playing baseball that he didn't want to seem like a jerk. This shows that over your life you will start as one person and when you die you will be a completly diffrent person and most likley you won't be able to even remember or recognize the person you were originally.In "Girl" you never really get to know the daughter of the story. I think the main character is the mother and how she puts some random list together of things that just poped into her head. We learn that she is concerned in all areas of her daughters life. My first reaction of the story "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid was that this mother is very critical and cruel to her daughter. Then as I read on it occured to me that maybe the mother isent being mean at all, maybe all she trying to do is look out for her daughter and make sure she grows up to the right kind of person. As i reached the middle of the story the thought that maybe the mother is dying and she is leaving this list to her daughter of all the things she would have taught her over her lifetime but, won't get the chance to. I see it that she saying she will become a "slut" becasue now is going to be raised by her father and won't grow up lady like. The daughter is obviously still very young because on the list she put not to squat down to play marbles which reminds me of a young childrens game.

Marissa G 4 said...

In "Bullet in the Brain" at the beginning of the story you think that Anders is a guy who dosent care what anyone thinks ( I mean he is the critic) but then they tell you the story of when he was younger playing baseball that he didn't want to seem like a jerk. This shows that over your life you will start as one person and when you die you will be a completly diffrent person and most likley you won't be able to even remember or recognize the person you were originally.In "Girl" you never really get to know the daughter of the story. I think the main character is the mother and how she puts some random list together of things that just poped into her head. We learn that she is concerned in all areas of her daughters life. My first reaction of the story "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid was that this mother is very critical and cruel to her daughter. Then as I read on it occured to me that maybe the mother isent being mean at all, maybe all she trying to do is look out for her daughter and make sure she grows up to the right kind of person. As i reached the middle of the story the thought that maybe the mother is dying and she is leaving this list to her daughter of all the things she would have taught her over her lifetime but, won't get the chance to. I see it that she saying she will become a "slut" becasue now is going to be raised by her father and won't grow up lady like. The daughter is obviously still very young because on the list she put not to squat down to play marbles which reminds me of a young childrens game.

Jillian D 2 said...

The two short stories “Girl” and “Bullet in the Brain” were written by two completely different authors. Wolff and Kincaid however used the same technique to expose there characters. In both of these stories, you can get a visual picture of what the author is trying to portray in the character. In “Girl” by Kincaid, I see a little girl looking up to her mother who is trying to teacher her daughter how to keep a man pleased without being known as in what her mother calls her, a “slut”. In “Bullet in the Brain” by Wolff, I see Anders as an older gentleman who is very bored in the way he lives his life. He is easily aggravated by people and it shows in many parts of the story.
The authors write their characters by bringing them out by others around. In “Girl” the mother is teaching her daughter house hold things. In “Bullet in the Brain”, Ander’s is mad at the women who are talking loudly and the banker walking away from the window.
What do you guys picture the little girl to look like?

casey w. 4 said...

When I was reading the story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid the speaker of the story just reminds me of an ordinary mother who wants to make sure her child makes it through life okay. The mother sounds like she is being tuff on her child by calling her a “slut” and then at the end of the story when she quotes “but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread? When this is said by the mother she sounds like she is aggravated at her daughter by asking this innocent question, but in reality she doesn’t want her daughter thinking that she is anything less then a fine young lady. It was creative of Kincaid to throw in a few statements by the daughter to show us, readers how the mother would react this is an awesome way to express what a character does or says just like what we talked about in class on characterization. Speaking of unique techniques the authors of these short stories bring up it is a good opportunity to talk about Tobias Wolff the author of “Bullet in the Brain”. He threw in a few interesting methods that he used to reveal the real character of Anders. When Anders gets shot in the head by the robber the author writes about a ton of memories that Anders can’t remember. “It was worth noting what Anders did not remember, given what he did remember.” At first I was thinking what was the point of Wolff writing down all these memories the main character can’t remember? Just like everything in literature there was a legitimate point. Wolff cleverly throws in a bunch of background information by using his memories to let the readers no more about his past. Not only did Wolff use the memories for that reason but he also used the memories to show us some qualities of Anders such as his unique sense of humor. Kincaid and Wolff are two talented authors who used their ability to create extraordinary characters for example the critical man with the odd sense of humor and the loving mother who comes off hard but deep down inside she loves her daughter more then anything in the entire world.

- One question I have for everyone is why does Wolff feel it is necessary to add the teller situation in before the robbers come in?

henry d:2 said...

Wolf added the tellers situation to further promote the hatred of Anders in the story. Anders being mad at the closing of one tellers and the tremendously long line, takes out his rage on the women in front of him. I know everyone has cursed Anders name by wishing he would die. I certainly did, in the end I even felt guilty for wishing Anders would die for being the jerk he was. Did anyone else feel guilty? The story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, was a rather funny one. It consists only of admonitions from the mother which later contradicted each other, and was manipulative. The mother tried giving her a false identity and ultimately failing. It showed the powerlessness of children in the adult world and the importance of adult power. Though the daughter was helpless in the beginning and was doomed to follow her mother orders which helped her in a way for her search of an identity and it questioned herself. I agreed with Chloe and Lynn about Kugler, he has some redeeming qualities even if he is a murderer, like “loving his mother dearly,” and stealing a rose for Irma. The story raises questions about the right of any human being to judge another, while at the same time acknowledging that such judgment is necessary in the modern social order, this answers Lynn’s question in a way. I also agreed with Chloe about how all 3 short stories relate to identity, but they also have a closer similarity. The 3 short stories are written in the same way, the authors convince you about the main character in the beginning with the perspective of the story and then completely reverses it and your emotions for the character twists.

Herman T 2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Herman T 2 said...

Reading the Girl by Jamaica Kincaid brought back old memories of the other stories we have read. The mother of the girl in the "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid is forcing her daughter to be someone who she isn't at the moment. She tells her to do everything that she thinks is what makes you the perfect wife. However the daughter doesn't want to be because in the end she asked,” but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?" At this point of the story you can already tell that she doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of her mother. The way her mother treats her daughter is as if she was meant to be like that. Her daughter doesn't have her own identity but has their identity chosen by her mother. This relates back to "Bullet in the Brain". Before Anders died he was forced to look at the ceiling where he criticizes the ceiling. Then he gets this funny thought and laughs uncontrollably. The pilfer then shot Anders right in the head. As he bullet was going through his brain, Anders has a moment of flashbacks where he goes back to the time where he finds his identity. The words "They is" sparked Anders career as a critic. Then there was "The Last Judgment". "The Last Judgment" is a short story of a man named Kugler who is convicted of killing nine people and was judged to see if he goes to heaven or hell. The case went on with God coming onto the stand as a witness and Kugler asking how come he’s not a judge. God replies that once that knows everything it not allowed to judge because they know it all. Kugler was corrupt during his term in prison which probably made him forgot about who he was. God brought back up good things about Kugler that he forgot. Kugler then thinks about who he is and he does realize who he is. The theme of these 3 short stories are about their identity. Chloe, Lynn, and Henry have brought up some interesting points about how we all thought that Kugler was a murderer and how the depiction of him changed as the story unfolded to show that he does redeem some nice characteristics of the way he treated people. Kugler wasn't that bad but he wanted to do things for the ones he loved. The rose he stole for Irma showed that he loved her. Kugler didn't kill and steal for no reason. There was always a reason and we looked back to it and we see that it was for something good even though he sought it the wrong way. Overall, the 3 stories are connected with how they find their own identities.

evelyn L 2 said...

In the story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid and “Bullet in the Brain” by Wolff, the characters are being shown who they really are by the way they speak and want things done. Like in the story “Girl” the mother , you can tell is strict about the way she wants her daughter brought up because of the way she tells her what to do and what not to do. And in “Bullet in the Brain” Anders you think from the very beginning, is an independent, sour man. But while looking at the story again you think this because of how Anders in the story reacts to other people surrounding him and his actual job as a book critic.

“The only thing that crossed my head was why did this mother keep bothering her daughter about acting like a lady and trying to teach her all of these life lessons.”, I agree with Jen-T. It bothers me that the mother kept on going about the most unimportant things, such as playing marbles?, or how to smile when you don’t like someone. In my opinion some of the information given to the little girl is not necessary. While the mother is speaking we find out that the little girl is just basically a little girl. I wouldn’t tell my daughter she has to sing the Barney song in a certain way,cause she HAS to? No, she’s just a little girl, and still has a lot more things to come her way.

The mother is trying to get her ready for life, I understand that but, she needs to slow down in the way that she presents this information to her daughter. Start small and go big.

I listened to the story like Mr. Walsh advised and he was write. The way I read it to myself was different than the way it was being read. When I was reading to myself I imagined it being read as if the mother was in a hurry to leave and just telling her daughter all these things but in a strict convincing voice. But when I listened to it, the speaker made it seem like the mother was very strict, dull and boring, I guess that kind of changed the way I portrayed the mother to be.

- Does anyone know how we started thinking the speaker as her mother? And the other speaker as her daughter? Because it never actually says that in any part of the story.
just a thought =]

Mat M. 4 said...

The short stories “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff, “The Last Judgment” by
Karel Capek, and “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid all share on thing in common and that is the theme of criticism and judgment. Wolff shows us that Anders is a man who criticizes everything that comes before him. However, later we see Anders is simply a man who is amused by unexpectedness when Coyle’s cousin says, “they is” in which the Wolff portrays very well. In “The Last Judgment”, Capek immediately tells us that Kugler was a “notorious multiple-killer” and is awaiting his fate to spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. From that moment, I had no sympathy for Kugler. Yet, Capek shows us some hardships Kugler has suffered in his life. He is somewhat confused why God isn’t going to judge him. He replies, “my knowledge is infinite…. They know about your crimes. I know all about you. The entire Kugler. And that is why I cannot judge” So in short, man can only judge or “criticize” not God and ultimately Kuglers judgment is to spend eternity in Hell. The short story “Girl” shows us a mother or grandmother telling her daughter and/or granddaughter how to do simple tasks. The tone of the speaker seems very rude and seems to be criticizing the young woman, yet maybe there is a purpose to it. Probably the speaker the wants the young woman to grow up to be an independent woman. For instance, “this is how to catch a fish; this is how to throw back a fish you don't like, and that way something bad won't fall on you; this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you”

Jonathan C. 4 said...

From the three stories The Last Judgment, Bullet in the Brain, and Girl the authors all used history as a way of creating their characters. The Witness from The Last Judgment told of Kugler’s past sins, which told the audience what he had really been like and made him seem even guiltier to the crimes he was accused of. Bullet in the Brain’s author Tobias Wolff brought readers into Anders’ mind as he was moments from dying, but nothing came back to his memories except when he was small playing baseball with his friends. From the discussion during class, it was agreed among us that Anders’ had been critiquing so long that his job had become first nature to him. While seeing the glimpse of his past that he was able to remember, Anders does not appear to be as much of a jerk as most people probably thought. By glancing into his past, it changed previous thoughts about Anders by making it seem that he use to be a pretty innocent kid just living life. On the other hand, from The Last Judgment, Kugler seems to have a past that matched him till his death. He had mercilessly killed nine people and seemed not to regret it. Girl was a short story that had a mother narrating to the audience as if we were the daughter that she was trying to raise correctly. More can defiantly be told about the mother than the daughter from the story. The overall impression that I had gotten from the stories were that all of the characters had changed since they were young to make them what they are in the stories. They all had life experiences that were either positive or negative which completely impacted their personalities
In response to Mr. Walsh’s debate from Lynn’s quote “I actually was able to characterize a lot more about the mother; to me she seemed like the main character. You can see that she once had to set a table for someone important (maybe she was a slave?), she loved a man, she was rejected, and she knew how to forget about it and move on. She is confident and well-assured about herself, and she wants her daughter to be." I also believe that there was more to characterize about the mother than the daughter.” From some of the demands, or suggestions, that she is stating it could be said that she seems to have a lot of knowledge about house-keeping. “This is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast,” a fair assumption would be that her profession may have been a house-keeper or stay-home mother. “This is how you smile to someone you don't like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don't like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely.” There is a high chance she may have learned to do all this as a house-keeper because they need to face many things such as rude and polite guests, and also grim or kind co-workers. Also, the things she is telling her daughter may also have been the things that she was taught when small.

Katherine Z 4 said...

In both the "Last Judgment' by Karel Capek and "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid the author reveals the personality of the character by the character's thoughts, their action and from the description said by others. In "The Last Judgment" it started off with "The notorious killer" immediately I thought of someone who kills people with no emotion what so ever, no heart to care about others. Same thing in "Girl" even thought it was the mother that was describing the girl; I can tell that the mother cares about her daughter. Even thought the way she does it to show that she cares is the wrong way. When I was reading it, I thought of like a instruction book, it shows step by step, so that nothing goes wrong. Just like the book, the mother is trying to show the daughter the right way to behave, to work, and to live. For example the mother teaches how to cook, how to sew, how to grow good foods.
The mother doesn't want the girl to become a slut, so she tells her how to dress, how to talk, etc. Just like what
Elaine said, the mother is trying to pass down her own knowledge, all the things that she had learn from past experience to her daughter. It kind of reminds me of how traditions are passed down from generation to generation. However, the way that she does to show that she cares is wrong, all throughout the story the mother keeps on bring up the word "slut". I know that she doesn't want her daughter to become a slut but what good does she do it by saying the word all the time? It's just like how mothers keep on saying "don't do this" and "don't do that" sometimes it only has the opposite, children do the exact opposite of what their parents told them.

The author in both also uses a technique mention by Killie and some other people about how the author shifts the personality of the character without us realizing it. In "Bullet in the Brain" the author makes us believe that Anders is a person who criticizes everything, from anyone to everything that he can see. He's a guy that says what's on his mind, even if he's facing death he 's the guy that can't keep his mouth shut. However, during the moment that he is shot, we see that he's not really a bad guy; he used to be a normal guy who had a first love, who married and even has a daughter. Just when he was about to die, he thought of some random day in the park when he was playing baseball, I would have thought that he'll remember something important in his life, but instead he remembers a day that something interesting had happen to him. Also in "The Last Judgment" at when I was reading the story I thought "how could anyone be this bad"? Doesn't he have a concious? A person who kills that many people could not possibly have any good in him. However, it just shows that I am wrong, and how the author can make us despise a guy at first but by the end of the story makes us, feel a little sympathy for him. When the judges summon God as a witness at first God starts off with a little history of Kugler. He makes us see a little side of Kugler that we' would never have thought possible, from how Kugler cares about his mother to how he has a person that he loves dearly. God also mentions how " Kulger shared many of his own meals with Gribble", this just shows that Kugler wasn't always a bad person just like how Anders wasn't always such a bad person. God also mentions how "he was kind to women, gentle with animals and he kept his words." How could a person who has kindness in them be all bad? This just makes me think more about the reason why he does all the bad things that he does now. Also in "Girl" at first the has a backbone of her own, she stood up against her mother when she said that he doesn't sing benna in Saturday and Sunday schools. However, after hearing more of her mother's "rules to be a good girl" she starts to weaken, by the end of the story she's starting to have doubts of her own. She said" what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?" Its like her asking her mother for advice, why does she do it? If I was her I wouldn't listen to someone who criticizes everything I do. And in the end ask her for more advice. The mother kind of reminds me of Anders, who criticizes everything around him; rather the mother criticizes everything the girl does.

At the end of the sentence when the mother said "you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread? I thought she sounded kind of disappointed. It's like she tells her daughter everything she knows about life but then the daughter just ignores her advices and does the wrong thing anyways. Overall I think she's really
a good mother at heart but the way she says all those things makes others think she's a bad mother. I think every mother does or says things to their children about how they should live their life, like my mother constantly gives me advice on how to clean my room, how to wash the dishes, or talk to others, but sometimes the way she says it just makes me ignore her. Its how every parent is, even thought the way they say it is not the exactly the way you what to hear, their advices are all for your own good.

Mr. Walsh said...

Nice job!!! Many of you are responding to one another. Awesome!

The question raised about "why the teller scene is included" is a nice point to begin to think about what the author chooses to tell and not tell. This has been mentioned with every work so far.

What I am seeing is many of you beginning to synthesis and evaluate the works. By that I mean, tie the three together as three works about character, three works about judgment or identity. Many of you are beginning to make your own value statements about the text. This is VERY good stuff.

One thing that some of you have mentioned is the theme of judgment, particularly the idea of who is the "Judge" in "The Last Judgment". New people to the group can comment on that as well.

You can see how this quickly can become overwhelming. Still, talk about your feelings, reactions, and ask questions.

If I could guide you all in a different direction, one may want to think about setting (Time and place) of these pieces. What is the effect or purpose of the setting?

Good luck!

Jessica F 2 said...

I really didn't like the short story "Girl". The mother in the story is exactly what you don't want in a mother. It is nice to have someone guide you through things but she's way too controlling. If her daughter did everything her mother told her to do in this story she would be her mother not herself. She would be living in all of her mother's mistakes and reliving her life. She needs to make her own mistakes and her own choices. It's not wrong to help her along and guide her but i felt she did too much. At first I didn't like the girl. Then towards the end she stuck up for herself and it changed my opinion on her. Just like in "Bullet In The Brain". I didn't like Anders at all. I thought he was just a grumpy guy but at the end i realized he wasn't. He went through alot of stuff through his life. Wolff and Kincaid also connect the mother in "Girl" and Anders in "bullet In The Brain in that way too. The mother and Anders have probually been through some tough times.

I agree with Katherine when she said "Overall I think she's really
a good mother at heart but the way she says all those things makes others think she's a bad mother."
she makes a good point. It's not like the mother isn't trying. You can tell she is just trying to make sure her daughter grows up into a lady but she does try too hard, i think.

I really can't get over the line "this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming". It's almost like she's teaching her daughter all these things but knowing she's going to fail. As if she's not good enough to do what her mother did. It kind of proves my point when she says "you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread?"

Does anyone else feel like this about the mother?

Mr. Walsh said...

Jessica, you make the assumption that the mother has been through tough times. Others have made this as well. I'm not going to say whether I agree or not (though I do have an opinion). I am wondering where in the text do you find this? What particularly do you learn about the mother?

Ngoc addressed this earlier, but I think it is something that could be explored more.

Jillian D 2 said...

I dont think that the mother had a rough life, but the mother of the mother probably taught her this as well so thats why the mother was talking and treating her like that too. Thats just my opinion. What do you think?

Chloe C 2 said...

The girl in the story reminds me of Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird", especially when the mother says "don't squat down to play marbles- you are not a boy, you know:" The girl is living her life as a kid, but adults are forever looking into our futures. This girl relates to Scout in the way that people all around them keep pushing them to become more ladylike or a better wife.
I also think that the time frame in this poem has women with barely any education. Women were basically around to mind the house. They were also married fairly young. (maybe?)

Thanh N. 4 said...

From the short story “Girl” and “Bullet in the Brain” both of the authors began the story with directed description. In “Girl,” the author made the mother say stuff such as, “Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry…” The author, Jamaica Kincaid, made the character sound like a maid in the house even though the person talking to her was her own daughter. On the other hand, in “Bullet in the Brain,” Wolff started his character off with “Anders couldn't get to the bank until just before it closed, so of course the line was endless and he got stuck behind two women whose loud, stupid conversation put him in a murderous temper.” Wolff used adjectives that created the character’s personality. I think that most often authors would start off their story describing the character to get an idea of what the story would be like. What I also think is that the author would use another character to portray another character is that it’s easier to describe a character than to describe oneself. Maybe the author just thinks it’ll be easier if it was another character describing the person than to go through a lot of trouble making the character describe oneself. I think that the way the author describes their characters are easier to understand then to have themselves describe it. In “Girl” I thought the way the mother ordered her daughter made it easier for me to understand what type of person she was. Overall I like the story “Girl” the most than “Bullet in the Brain.”

Malik B. 4 said...

The mother of Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” was shown to be doubtful and seemed to talk at her not to her. I also felt that the mother was the main character because through her “lessons” her personality was displayed. It was made apparent that the mother believed her daughter was a “slut” and gave many ways to avoid pregnancy. Jamaica Kincaid built the mother as a character by her speech and the punctuation used. The long sentence structure showed that the mother was harassing her daughter and bombarding her with instructions although she may not have taken the best approach. People seem to respond to general advice rather than specific instructions because they still have the freedom to make their own decisions rather than have them forced upon them. Tobias Wolff and Jamaica Kincaid took similar approaches to creating their characters. Both Wolff and Kincaid used the main character’s own words in addition to their interaction along with others to build the characters. I was also wondering if the daughter has done something in the past that would make her mother be skeptical of her? The title "Girl" was brought to my attention because the mother talks to her daughter about pregnancy and handling herself around men, but why does she refer to her as a "girl"? Referring to her daughter as girl to me means that she doesn't treat her like the young woman that she seems to be. Anders from "Bullet in the Brain" and the mother from "Girl" are both critical of others but seem to neglect any possible flaws within themselves.
I also wanted to bring up something from "The Last Judgment". If God is unable to pass judgment on people because he knows all, is it alright for others to do without acknowledging the positive side of people?

Amir Q. 4 said...

In “Bullet in the Brain” the author introduces the character by introducing his personality. Anders is shown to be a sarcastic, pessimistic and critical person and once other characters are introduced the main character’s personality is even more fortified. Although when Anders is shot and his memories are revealed to the reader the character of Anders is shown to be more sympathetic. His life has been horrible from his birth to the current, with copious instances of horrible events happening (such as his mother wanting to kill his father in his sleep). The reader’s impression of the character changes from someone that is very critical and mean to someone who the readers can sympathy with.

In “Girl” the character is introduced by the author by showing a list of things that she must follow in her life, as set forth by her mother. The character is shown to me as being annoyed by this list and by her mother for not trusting her. Once her mother is brought into the story he appears as someone who is strict because she wants to protect her child (maybe a bit too much) and to keep her out of harms way. It seems to me that she was hurt before by a man and ended her relationship with him and doesn’t want her daughter to be hurt like she was and so she set these rules for her. “This is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man; and if this doesn't work there are other ways, and if they don't work don't feel too bad about giving up.” as said by the mother. The two points of view in this story differ greatly and I felt that I could be sympathetic to both characters.

Amir Q. 4 said...

My answer to Malik’s question: The reason why god didn’t judge the Kugler was because he knew of his good deeds. If someone is on trial then you wouldn’t go easy on them because of the good things they did, they still committed the act that brought them to that court room. Say a millionaire murdered someone yet they also donated millions to other institutes and places for the betterment of mankind, it doesn’t matter that they did that they still killed that one person and that is what they are being judged/ the only thing they are being judged for.

Andy T. 4 said...

In “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff, and “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid the authors have similar ways of try to change our point of view on the characters. I agree with what many people have said about Anders. Like we said in class, Anders is shown to us as a critic and his smart mouth of his caused him his death. I thought he was annoying at first but later on, the author brings us into Anders’ mind and shows us in the past how he was nice when he was afraid of criticizing others, “The others will think he’s being a jerk, ragging the kid for his grammar.”
In “Girl”, the mother is very cruel towards her daughter. I agree with Jessica and Katharine that she’s a good mother because she doesn’t want her daughter growing up to become a “slut” and its for the daughter’s own good. You see how the mother is very controlling in the beginning and not that many people like that but in the end she’s looking out for her daughter which changes how I feel about the mother.

Jillann C 2 said...

When I first read Girl by Kincaid, I wondered about two things. One was what the purpose of the story was and the other was why there were only comas and semi-colons and no periods. However, when I took Mr. Walsh’s instructions and listened to Kincaid read the story to me, I soon understood the purpose and why the punctuation is unique. In my opinion the mother was just trying to guide her daughter in making the right decisions in life. Sure she seemed demanding and basically a control freak, but like all mothers, she only wants her daughter to succeed in life. In only wanting her daughter to succeed in life, I think the reason why the mother repeats the phrase, “and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming;” because obviously no one’s mother wants their daughter to become a slut, at least I would hope not, but that’s beside the point. So it’s clear that in the story, Girl, the mother who is also the speaker just wants to put her daughter on the right path so that she’ll succeed in life. I think the reason why Kincaid used unique punctuation in this story was because these are things that the mother tells her daughter throughout their day to day lives. I mean it’s not like she just sits her daughter down and says that whole speech and just tells her daughter to take notes. The author is probably showing what the mother tells her daughter during instances of their lives like when they’re hanging clothes on the clothesline or sweeping the house or even setting the table for a meal.

The story Girl reminded me of the previous story we read, Bullet in the Brain. The first time you read Girl is like the when you are first introduced to Anders. I think it’s safe to say that the first time we all read Girl; we thought that the mother was a pugnacious, control freak and when we were first introduced to Anders as the evil book critic who seemed like he was always annoyed by everyone. But, after we heard the author tell the story in Girl and once we all read Anders’ memories after we was shot, our perspectives changed for the most part, right? So this would indicate that we were judgmental of the mother in Girl and of Anders in the beginning of Bullet in the Brain. By a lot of us being judgmental of these two characters, it relates to the other story we’ve read, The last Judgment. We think Kugler is a heartless killer until we hear that he stole a rose from a notary garden for a little girl named Irma and by reading that, it makes us rethink Kugler’s motives of killing all nine people and why commit all of the crimes that he did before he died. I think it’s clear that we were all judgmental of these three stories when we initially started reading each of them.

If anyone has any opinions/comments/disagreements, please comment back!!!

Cristina V 2 said...

In the short stories, "Girl" and "Bullet in the Brain" both characters were very critical of

many different subjects. In Tobias Wolff's "Bullet in the Brain" Anders critisizes

everything. When the bank was being robbed, Anders mocked and critisized what the robber

said. "'Hey! Bright Boy! Did I tell you to talk?'...'Did you hear that?' Anders said.

'Bright Boy. Right out of the Killers.'" This got a gun pointed at his chin. Even with the

gun pointed at him, he critisized the paintings on the ceiling. He began to laugh at the

paintings and also when the robber said, "Capiche." His 'smart' attitude, his criticism,

and his laughter lead him to his death.
In "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, the mother tells the daughter exactly how to act. She tells

her daughter to "Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the

color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry;...this is how to love a

man;" The mother also said to feel the bread to make sure it's fresh. However after the

girl's mother critisizes her behaivor and tells her exactly what to do and how to grow up

not to act like a "slut" it seems as though the daughter has lost a lot of confidence in

herself because she askes, "but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?" She feels

she won't be good enough to feel the bread. I agree with Jessica, At first I didn't like

Anders either, but as I read more of the story I felt sympathetic for him because he went

through a lot during his life. As with the mother in "Girl" I did not like her at first

either. However, it then occured to me that eventhough she seemed demanding and controlling

she was only trying to prepare her daughter for life. I also feel as though the one really

long sentence in "Girl" added to the effect of the mother being demanding and wanting her

daughter to grow up to act like a lady. Both authors portray how much a person can chance

throughout their life, as Anders, or in a single conversation, as the daughter in "Girl"

did.

Katherine Z 4 said...

As I was reading Thanh's paragraph I notice that she wrote " The author, Jamaica Kincaid, made the character sound like a maid in the house even though the person talking to her was her own daughter". It started to make me think about their relationships, are they really mother and daughter? However, what if they're not? It had never anywhere in the story that suggests that they're mother and daughter, we just asume that this is their relationship. The only thing that mentions in the story was how the "mother" said " this is how you iron your father's khaki shirt....etc". This could be interept in a different way, what if she's the maid like what Thanh said, then the whole story would make a little more sense.

Also from what Chloe said about how this stort reminds her of "To Kill A Mocking Bird". Scout's aunt reminds me of this lady that's telling the girl what to do and not do. They're both trying to change a person's lifestyle, they want them to be more girl like and not such a tomboy. There's many possibilities, what do you guys think? Are they really mother and daughter?

Mr. Walsh said...

jillann, good job noticing what we bring to the text. Particularly with "girl", how much do we bring up our ideas about parental relationships? This is a good thing to notice. We haven't finish our court case, but the idea of when or should we judge Kugler is another good point.

Lastly to the class, how old is the girl in "girl"?

Next, what does the "mother" (there seems to be debate about this) say about relationships/marriage? What does the narrator say about gender roles?

sandy j 2 said...

I can relate to this story because my mother tells me how to do certain things all the time. In the story when the mother said “this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don't like too much; my mom tells me the same thing”. Though I never listen because I don’t consider it important. I always think that domestic education won’t help you through life that much, as long as you have the actual education, it doesn’t matter. The story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid has two different point of views; the mother’s and the child’s. When the mother said “ don’t eat fruits on the street, flies will follow you” and she answered “ but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school:. She was responding to her mother’s advice while defending herself saying that she didn’t sing benna on Sundays. I’m comparing this story to “Bullet in the brain” concerning characterization. At first the mother seem to be picking on her daughter about everything and it seemed unnecessary. “Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry.” Although later in the story her character changes because it seemed more like she was advising her than bullying her. “This is how to make good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child. This is how to throw back a fish you don’t like.” Like all mothers, her mother advises her because she probably don’t want her to make the same mistakes that she did. If she doesn’t want you to do a certain thing, it’s because she knows what the outcome will be and she doesn’t want you to go through the same. This story is also similar to “The last judgment” because the mother criticizes everything her daughter does and hasn’t done yet. It seemed in the beginning of “The last judgment” Ferdinand was an assailant without reason. We knew he killed those people but we didn’t know why until we learned more about him. Just like in “Girl” we judge because of her harsh demands to her daughter but in the end it changed because she has a reason. She wants the best for her daughter, the message is just delivered in her own way that she thinks will be helpful.

Aaron G 2 said...

Unlike Sandy I cant relate to Girl, besides the obvious fact I’m not a girl. My parents tell me to do something, and most of the time not how to do it, that is for me to figure out. If I ask how the will either tell me or as they usually do they’ll say, “figure it out. Although I hate it at the time it does prepare me for life, I think better than girl because this is many things that will happen in this girls life but not EVERYTHING. This isn’t allowing the girl to make decisions, which she will need to do when her mother is not their.
I think Sandy missed the point of view, it is the mother and daughter but it is first and second person point of view, which is strange.
This girl’s mother did not explain what to do in a bank robbery as in bullet in the brain, so how will she know what to do. Anders made a stupid decision to back talk the robbers but he knew the consequences because he can make decisions which life is all about.

Nikita R 2 said...

In both stories, "Girl" and "Bullet in the Brain", you are able to visualize the characters. In "Girl", from reading the story, I can picture a young girl that is learning life lessons from her mother. The girl's mother is trying to teach the girl how to be a lady and not to be what the mother refers to as a "slut". I think the girl's mother is just trying to make sure that her daughter has the best life. In "Bullet in the Brain", the character Anders is a little weird. His life is ver boring and it seems that he doesn't take some things too seriously. As in the robbery at the bank, he thought the robber was a big joke and laughed at him and critized him just before the robbver shot him. I liked how the books allowed you to picture the characters and get a better understanding of their position in the book.

will h 4 said...

The mother in girl is trying to teach her daughter to be a lady. I think that the whole story is just a speech from mother to daughter. the girl in the story seems to be 11 or 12 years old. i think the that the girl is this young because she does not sound like she wants to grow up in her two comments. "but I don't sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school," and "but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?" I think that the girl likes being a child because she plays marbles. The mother and the girl know she has to become an adult. This is shown by the mother listing the things the girl need to know how to do. i think the mother sometimes thinks that her daughter is not becoming a "good woman" because a few times in the story she says, "......the slut you are so bent on becoming." the last sentance of the story is very important. "you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread?" The mother is saying that everything else she is trying to teach her is to not be a person who is "not aloud to get near the bread." I think that this quote means that the mother does not want her daughter to be someone who cannot be trusted or just an all around bad person when she grows up.

In Bullet in The Brain the author creates Anders by show how much of a critic he is. He does this by making him critisize the robbers and other people in the bank with him. I think that Wolff shifts Anders by bringing us into his last memory, which is playing baseball with his friends. This memory shows how his love for critism and funny words started. I think that this is show when Coyle's cousin says, "they is" and Anders laughs.

Mr. Walsh said...

Will, you make the assertion that the girl is 11 or 12 based on the advice (what other characters say) the mother gives her.

Is there other advice that might signify that her age is different? If so, what does that mean?

(I'm trying to blow your mind here)


Be sure to reference the works as stories, not books. I saw a couple of you slip up. This is minor, but I'm watching.

Mr. Walsh said...

Joe posted his comment in error on last week's entry. So I wanted to ask I question that he brought up about Last Judgment: "Is it right for us to judge an individual without acknowledging his/her positive side?"

What do you think?

Savannah W 2 said...

When first reading this story I was comfused as to what was going on and why this mother gave her daughter so many instructions and rules to follow. I then compared it to The last Judgement, after I listened to the story, and thought this mother is trying to make sure that her daughter turns into the lady that's she's supposed to be and make sure she does good in life, and not turn into the so called "slut" that she could turn out to be without discipline like how Kulger bought shame to his family by commiting crime and hanging with wrong people and talking to the wrong people.

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid also relates to "Bullet in the Brain" because of the misconception that we might have when we first start reading. I can imagine this girl cleary, like I imagine Anders. In my opinion I think the authors did a good job with adressing the personality of the characters. I imagine her being a little girl with a confused look on her face the whole time her mothers speaking sayig to her self"I dont want to be that", but the mother keeps a serious look on her face the whole time to insure her that no little girl of hers is going to turn out to be everything but a lady and everything she can be and earn respect, trying to have a womenly bond with her and keep in mind that's she's her mother. I imagine Anders smiling the whole time and not caring to much what this guy thinks or what he's going to do, while giving him a face to let him mknow that he's not concerned. So none of these charteres had intentions on changing, and even though people tried to change them into different people, we seen the image of what people want, and who these charcters are going to be.

Steven E. 4 said...

In the story “Girl”, written by Jamaica Kincaid, the story centers on a mother talking to her daughter. I had to read it a couple times to figure it out. Throughout the story the mother is telling her daughter what to do in life and how she should behave or act. She tells her how to wash clothes, how to eat, and seems to command her to do things in a certain way. She repeats the words “the slut you are so bent on becoming” like she is terrified that she is going to become a slut and not what her mother wants her to become. When I read this I think that the girl’s mother was a “slut” growing up. I think that she is not happy about the things she did when she was young and is trying to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes. That is why she is telling her all the ways to try to be a lady. Then in the end when the girl says “but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?” and her mom says “you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread?”, she sounds disappointed. She is disappointed because even after all the time she spent to make her be a lady, she can’t control what her daughter is going to do in life.


In “The Last Judgment” by Karel Capek, Kugler is portrayed as a horrible person throughout the whole story. When the judges bring in God to tell about his life, the words are basically all negative. God tells of how Kugler killed eight people. He also tells of how he lied and stole. He is just talked about as being the worst person in the world. Then near the end of the story, the author shifts God to say a few good things about Kugler. He says, “He was generous and often helpful. He was kind to women, gentle with animals and he kept his word. This shows that even the worst of people have a little good in them at some point in their life.

::HebaK:: 4 said...

In the story, Girl by Jamaica Kincaid, second person is used. By doing this I was seemingly put in the place I was “girl.” I felt I was being scolded and targeted for no reason. The way the mother was being demanding and sarcastic got me frustrated and angry. I know that is anyone ever talked to me like that I wouldn’t stand for it. No one likes anyone who is demanding and thinks they are better then you; even if it is a mother. Every person ahs their own way of doing what they do, there is no need to judge and criticize that. Being put in the place of girl was annoying.

“Girl” is supposedly recognized as the speakers daughter. The speaker, the mother, is demanding and judgmental. The setting of the story has a lot to do with the way the mother is acting. The setting was around the 1900s (I think). Back then everything was about image; the way you acted, your rank in society, the way you dress, act, etc. The mother is trying to get her “daughter” to make no mistakes and be a poise and respectable girl on the outside and a confident, wise, and scheming on the inside. The mother wants her daughter to know how to get what she wants and please everyone she sees to get what she wants. The daughter is being taught how to take care of herself in a crude way. “this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming” If I were the mother I would teach my child what it means to be a lady gently and slowly; so that she understands. Every mother has good intentions just different ways of expressing them. Some think that yelling and abusing is a way to get a child fit for the real world; others think that explain everything to them peacefully and slowly is the right way. “Girl’s” mother is not affectionate towards her daughter and her intentions; courage and confidence builds up that way.(at least according to her, I think)

In the story, Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff , Anders is not affectionate towards many things in his life. Anders has the confidence of a thousand whales. He speaks when ever he wants too, and does what ever he wants too. He probably grew up with demanding parents, like “girls” mother. The person you are when you get older depends a lot on the way your guardian(s) guided you to be. Maturity is something you have to fix on your own. In the story “Girl”, the daughter is not capable of being able to do what she is told without an explanation and some understanding. “Girls” maturity is probably more ardent than Anders; well in some ways. “Girl” knows not to talk back to anyone no matter what they are saying: Anders, one the other hand, doesn’t do that. He speaks what ever and whenever he wants to. To me, Anders personality is like a 2007 teenager. “Girl” lived in a time when free speech was limited. Anders and “Girl” have different personalities and rate somewhat different and the maturity scale.

Kim C 2 said...

The author is able to create and develop a character in multiple ways and place the character in various situations. These habitats and surroundings can help provide additional information about a character. A character's surroundings can include habitat, environment, and other individuals. Authors can also describe characters directly by displaying their physical features and personality. Placing a character in a certain situation and showing their reactions is another way to show their personality. In this short description, the tips that were given to the character were obeyed and thought threw. By describing her viewpoints and feedback, she shows that she cared. The characteristics and duties given develop a setting of the earlier days. It seems that these are the duties that society gave to women. Such as how to set a table for dinner, buying cotton to make a nice blouse, and cooking pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil.

::HebaK:: 4 said...

The age of "girl" could be around 12. this is because the mother said, "this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming." The mother uses the word "becoming," this indicates that she is exactly a teenager.

barbara j 2 said...

I really like the observation that Lynn made on the character’s background in the "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid. African American parents can be strict sometimes because it is important for their kids to be successful in life because to be educated in an American society for them can be complicated. It is their goal that their kids make it in life and grow to become a lawyer or whatever else and they will do anything for this to happen. Like most of you said the mother must have gone through all this before when she was a child and she wants her daughter to be raise the way she is teaching her. However the “girl” of the story probably wants to grow up her own way. At the end their last words are: “Always squeeze bread to make sure it's fresh; but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread?” The “girl” is letting the mother know that she won’t become the exact daughter that she wants her to be and that is when the mother understands that no matter all the counsels she may give her daughter she won’t change a bit or maybe exactly like that. Kincaid could have added more to the story but left it like that so that we would question ourselves more and look hard for a good meaning of the story as there can be many different one.
As for the “Bullet in the Brain” by Wolff, like everybody said Anders is not really appreciated because all he does is criticizing everything until the end where we read about his life and his last memory. I am still not certain of the author’s purpose for this story.

Mr. Walsh said...

To comment on the author's purpose of Bullet in the Brain, let me write what I get out of it. For me, the "They is" signifies a time before Anders criticized the world, particularly the English language (he is a book critic). I relate to this as an English teacher, who spends his time, examining your essays front and back and annoying my peers by correcting their errors. Often, I want to go back to a time when I could enjoy words just as they sound. They is, they is, they is...

Trang T 2 said...

At first, i found the story Girl by Jamaica Kincaid a little frustrating. Because I didn’t know who was talking to whom, there were no subjects. I read the story over again then I knew this was a conversation between a mother and her daughter. She was instructing her daughter to do housework and how to behave her as a perfect woman. She delivers a long series of instructions and warnings to the daughter. I thought that the women was so cruel, she commanded her daughter to do this or that. But later I also read more biography of Jamaica Kincaid, she's from Antigua and she left and moved to New York when the English were colonizing. I agree with Jessica that the mother had been through tough times when she was a little. Her life had struggled against colonial orders which intrude on natives' lives, and I though "Girl" portrayed that perfectly. She lived her life with rules and regulations and I think that’s why she wants her daughter to follow her steps. Throughout their conversation, the daughter is an adolescent. Her mother helps her learn what women should know. If you guys notice the part:’’ soak your little cloths right after you take them off…’’; the mother cares about her a lots.
‘’ Bullet in the brain’’ by Woff and ‘’Girl’ by Jamaica Kincaid, the characters reveal their daily life and actions. They both show us the other characters think and react their situations. But in ‘’Girl’’ I don’t think that there is any introduction or description about the characters and the setting of the story. And near the end of the story, the daughter asked her mom a question ‘what if the baker won’t let you touch the bread?’ and the mother suddenly showed her attitude. I think because she was teaching the girl alots but then the daughter asked her only a simple question.

Ashley N. 4 said...

What I noticed about all three stories is that the characters are not described directly. Like, in “Bullet in the Brain” Anders is described through his memories, in “Girl” the mom and daughter are portrayed through the dialogue, and in “Last Judgment” Kugler is depicted through his actions and God’s words.
I think this is a more interesting way to illustrate characters, instead of the usual way. ex. “Harry has brown hair, and is in high school. He enjoys committing small acts of teenage rebellion.” I guess, that way is more straight-forward, but I prefer the methods the authors of those three stories used to express their characters because it was more entertaining.
Which way do you prefer?

Jess L 2 said...

I think that the story "Girl" by Jamaice Kincaid is quite interesting. The girl, who it seems most have assumed to be the daughter of the narrator, seems very easy to relate to. The mother is giving the daughter basic instructions on how to be more mature. I'm sure most of you, whether you are girls or guys, have had your mother badger you about manners at the dinnertable, such as when this girl's mother says "always eat your food in such a way that it won't turn someone else's stomach." To me, it just seems like the mother is looking out for her child's best interests, although I see many people have interpreted it a little differently, saying that the mother is trying to structure and control the daughter's future, seemingly to make her into a boring housewife. I certainly see where they are coming from, but I have to disagree. At first it may seem that way, because the mother is telling the daughter exactly what do to and when to do it:
"Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry"
However, as I was reading, my interpretation was that the mother seemed to change her tone, and sees that she is making a mistake by trying to change who her daughter is. Instead of giving her instructions about chores, she begins to give her instructions on other various things, like fishing, love, and she even says at one point: "this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn't fall on you"

One of the words that seems to be recurring throughout everyone's comments is "identity", as Mr Walsh pointed out. All the works we have read so far seem to have that theme in common, showing the character as one person sees him/her, then letting us in on another person's, and usually the character's, point of view, which gives us a whole different idea of who the character is. We were always told not to judge a book by it's cover, and that seems explicitly true here.

Mr. Walsh said...

Ashley, nice job noticing how the characters are characterized. There is a bunch of this in "Esme" as well.

Trang, ask me about the "wash the clothes" line in class and I'll help clarify a point I think you might be missing.

Keep it up!!!

jimmy v. 2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jimmy v. 2 said...

I agree with what Will H. said about the short story ''Girl'' by Kincaid being a sort of speech from mother to daughter. Starting off the story, the speaker's advice or commands are more about chores and daily tasks. With that alone the speaker could not just be the girl's mother. She could've been a life coach or one of those prepschool teachers. You know like the ones that teach etiquette? However, as the story goes on the commands become more personal like, ''...this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child;...this is how to love a man; and if this doesn't work there are other ways, and if they don't work don't feel too bad about giving up;...'' These advices usually come from people that are closer to a person, such as mother to daughter.
I dont really agree with what Will and Heba K. said about the girl in the short story ''Girl'' by Kincaid being 12 years old. I think that she could be older than that, maybe 14 or 15. The reason is because in the story, the speaker gives advice on things that a 12 year old girl might not have the responsibility enough to do such as; cooking, dealing with other people(particularly men), making medicines(birth control?). Also, the speaker talks to the girl about chores that we 14-15 year olds might get from our parents like washing clothes, setting tables, and sweeping.
To Ashley's question, I like the indirect way those 3 authors write also. It makes you kind of think more about the characters. Another thing I like about that way of expressing characters is that a lot of people have their view of a character and it changes your perspective when you hear about what someone else thinks.

Mr. Walsh said...

This thread is closed. Thank you!

Ms. Abbie. said...

hi, mr. walsh
just a curious question, in the Girl's story, we hardly hear the voice of the young girl. What is the significance of the girl’s relative silence?