In all historical periods, different societies established their own laws of behavior for the people who were subject to the ruling elite. These rules of conduct differed significantly throughout the time, but in almost all cases, the humans who had fewer rights than others were the females and the poor. The discrimination of these social groups is often a theme analyzed and investigated in the literature. Many writers created novels, short stories, and poems about the fates of people who were deprived of their freedoms due to the fact that they were born in the “wrong” social group. This theme is present in numerous works of Jamaica Kincaid and Toni Cade Bambara, but the content of the short stories “The Lesson” and “The Girl” is the most appropriate material for comparison and contrast. These works explore the theme of obeying and breaking the regulations but focus on different aspects of this problem and employ different literary techniques to support the main idea analyzed by the authors.
The most important characteristic feature of any literary work is its structure and the language the author uses to achieve the required aim. All of these aspects are presented in a different way in “The Girl” and “The Lesson.” Bailey writes, “Jamaica Kincaid’s compact and succinct story “Girl” … has been lauded as one of the premier works in Kincaid’s corpus, particularly her discourse on the making of “woman” in postcolonial Caribbean contexts”. This Kincaid’s story has the form of a single sentence. This sentence is divided into logical parts by numerous comas and semicolons, but the sentence covers about a page in the book. This short story is slightly similar to a poem as it consists of numerous anaphoric lines that are typical for poetry. This is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a button. Such monotonous repetition creates an atmosphere that does not imply any deviations from the established rules. The voice of the mother dominates the whole story. It has the form of an avalanche that never stops. She gives commands to the girl; her words are not the advice of a woman who is more experienced and knows life better. The mother in “The Girl” fully agrees to obey the regulations as she understands how much pain a rebellion can cause.