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Discussion About Three Stories

            ‘Girl’, ‘A & P’ and ‘How I Learned to Sweep’ are three interesting pieces of literature that bring out one common theme of feminist in them. ‘Girl’ gives a picture of a conversation between a mother and her daughter. The mother passes on knowledge to her daughter about some of the basic skills she needs to know and equip her for a successful life. Several admonishments and warnings can be traced from the mother. For instance, she warns her daughter against falling into the trap of becoming a ‘slut’. The daughter can only be heard on two occasions where she tries to defend herself. The mother gives clear and practical advices to her dear daughter, which include how to do her house chores, which include sewing, ironing, sweeping, washing, and cooking. From her words, it is easy to notice that they live in a poor and rural set up where she requires knowledge about herbal medicines and fishing.

            ‘A &P’ is the second interesting story that depicts three girls who walk into an A&P grocery store in barefoot and bathing suits. This shocks the customers but grasps the attention of two youthful men who serve in the store at the cash registers. The store manager is not impressed at their arrival and harshly tells them that they should dress decently whenever they come into the store since it is a policy for them to have their shoulders covered before coming in. As they leave the store, Sammy, who is one of the cashiers, decides to impress the girls by telling the manager that he is quitting his job at their hearing. Unfortunately, the story ends on a bad note for Sammy who stands alone at the parking lot when the girls are long gone.

            ‘How I learned to Sweep’ reveals to the reader the story of a young girl who sweeps the floor for the first time. As she watches the television, her mother approaches her telling her that she would love to get the place cleaned. With her attention on the television, she quickly and thoroughly sweeps the floor sparkling clean. Her task appears simpler than the one for the soldiers on the television who work extremely hard to fight for the life of their country. The author of the story brings an interesting contrast between the girl’s effort and the war on television. She feels lucky not to be involved in such gruesome exercises as fighting to death for the lives of others. This makes her sweep the floor to perfection.

            ‘Girl’, ‘A & P’, and ‘How I learned to Sweep’ are three incredible stories that have several similarities. First, all the three stories speak about the common things in life that a girl encounters while going about her duties. For instance, every girl who has a mother figure gets advice from her mother or the rest of the community about life. Such advice includes living in integrity, handling house chores as well as being responsible. This is reflected in the second story where the store manager advices the girls to dress decently every time they come to the store. He makes it clear that girls ought to maintain decency especially in public places. The third story equally reflects the life of a small girl who is taught how to sweep for the first time. Her mother teaches her on perfection and cleanliness in the house the stories also drive out some differences on the role of women in the past and at the present time. women in the past had the  general house responsibilities, including sweeping, washing clothes, cooking etc. years later the responsibilities of women changed where they would take care of house chore and at the same time perform other tasks e.g. store keeping, that were regarded as men tasks in the past..

            A unique connection about good morals exists in the three stories. In the first story, ‘Girl’ the mother of the girl is afraid of losing her daughter to the evil world of becoming a ‘slut’. She goes on to warn her daughter against squatting while playing marbles or singing any Antiguan folk songs in Sunday school. She also insists that her daughter should walk like a lady. ‘A &P’ on the other hand reflects the need to morality by the storeowner insisting that the girls should have dressed decently. Morality is reflected in the fact that no person was allowed into the store while indecently dressed. Similarly, the third story propagates for morality by insisting on a balanced lifestyle that accommodated both entertainment and learning of house chores. The mother of the girl was not ready to tolerate laziness in her house, especially in the young girl. She, therefore, insists that the girls should learn how to sweep regardless of whether she had taught her or not.  

            It is important to note that ‘Girl’ and ‘How I learned to Sweep’ have their characters as a mother and daughter. Both stories reflect a close and intimate relationship between a mother and her daughter. The mothers in the stories seem to be protective of their daughters. They seem concerned about the welfare of their daughters and their growth as women.

            Presently, we can easily identify with the ‘A &P’ story. There is a crisis when it comes to dressing especially among the young people. Most of them dress in skimpy clothes regardless of their surrounding or location. Just as the owner of the shop advised the young ladies to dress decently, the elderly generation today keeps insisting for decent dressing especially among the younger generation.