The short story by Kincaid reminds of how a mother would talk to her daughter. Her essential intent is to raise a respectable woman that knows how to treat others and herself as well. The keyword of the story is the word “lady.” I picked it for the reason that I believe that a real woman is the one that knows how to behave in public, communicate with others properly, and take care of the housework.
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The story reflects a made-up (yet so close to what might occur in a real-life situation) monolog. The intonation with which this word is pronounced might hint at the fact that the mother tries to stress the importance of being neat, reliable, and diligent. Considering all the other things said by the alleged mother, one might realize that the representation of the real woman is not too far from society’s viewpoint. The word “lady” is also emphasized by the word “slut” as the mother understands that her daughter might want to dress and behave like one but she should never do it for one simple reason – true ladies are allowed a lot more than the women who are not cherished and respected. The point is, though, that a real woman will never take advantage of her being nice to others for the reason that all the favors are always returned to those who deserve it. This vision is somewhat old-fashioned, but the meaning behind this is much bigger, as the word “lady” in the context of this short story implicitly represents the depiction of the superlative human personality traits, not just the ones that define a real woman.
From a modern point of view, this story might seem to exaggerate the notion of the word “lady.” Nonetheless, it is important to realize that, even 30 years after, this story by Kincaid is still relevant. Moreover, this story might be seen as an example of adoring the future woman in a little girl. The girl’s question at the end of the story tells us that she is not sure yet if she knows how to be a true lady. Despite this, she shows interest in the subject and listens to her mother, attentively. She does not interrupt her throughout the whole story, so this might also be an indication of her obedience. Whatever the case, I believe that her mother is raising her right and shows her a good example of how a true lady should look and behave like. No matter how old an individual is, his or her parents will be the role models in the majority of the cases. It is the mother’s responsibility to deliver the message and take care of her child. Essentially, this is what a real lady would do, no matter how hard life is.
Jamaica Kincaid managed to reach out to the readers and left an emotional message between the lines. In spite of the fact that the girl’s mother enumerated various characteristics of a real woman, there is the word “lady” that embraces all of the other definitions. Whatever a woman does, she should remain a lady and behave appropriately. The word “lady” plays the leading role in this short story, but the real question is for how long the notion of a “lady” will survive in the modern world in its classic form of a woman that knows how to cook, do household chores, and love herself.