Both “Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid, and “The Werewolf,” by Angela Carter are the stories concerning about women position; therefore, in this essay, I am going to illustrate the position of women in these two stories according to two points of view: the individual point of view and the social point of view to work out the point that although there are some differences between the position of women in these two stories, but the similarity outweigh the differences, they are the lowest ones in the society.
Firstly, if standing on the point of view of the young girls in the stories, which is the individual view, we can see the girl in “Werewolf” has a stronger position comparing with the position of the girl in “Girl”.
To illustrate this point, my first reason is that what they need to face is totally different, the girl in “Girl” has a traditional woman-liked position; she needs to learn washing clothes, cooking, sewing, ironing, housekeeping, and also behaving like a lady. What her mother tells her to do prepares her to be a perfect, sweet and traditional woman and wife. In the story, her mother says “don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy” (523) and “on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming” (523), which attribute to the traditional woman-liked position of the girl in “Girl”. On the other hand, what the girl in “Werewolf” needs to do is totally different from the girl in “Girl”. She needs to overcome many obstacles and risks. Firstly, she is required to accomplish the task of bringing cakes to her grandmother knowing that she herself may come to many dangers, such as the wolves, and then she is so unlucky to come across a wolf, which means she needs to fight against it only counting on her father’s hunting knife, at last, a tragedy that her grandmother is actually the werewolf comes to her. Now, do you think the role she is playing is still a little girl under the circumstance that she has come over so many crises? She is acting like a hero, a man. The writer has given the girl in “Werewolf” a man-liked position, a position stronger than the position of the girl in “Girl” since what the girl in “Werewolf” needs to do is more risky and heavy.Order now
The second reason why the girl in “Werewolf” has a stronger position comparing with the position of the girl in “Girl” according to the individual point is that their characters and attitudes are totally different. In “Girl”, the girl has a character which totally suits the character of a traditional woman, soft, weak and obedient. As we can see in the story, the girl never says anything to respond to her mother during the so long instruction of how to be a traditional woman, except for one time that her mother tells her not to sing benna on Sundays or in Sunday school, her daughter eventually can’t endure her accuse anymore; therefore, she says: “I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school.”(523) Nevertheless, it was the only time the girl fights against her mother. She is so obedient that she continues to absorb everything her mother says without pointing out any question or opinion. At the end of the story, she responds to her mother again, the significance is that her response is not an against one, but a response supporting her mother.
On the contrast, the girl in “Werewolf” has a strong, persevering characteristic since she doesn’t feel afraid or hesitate while facing so many dangers. For instance, as a girl, she can reject her mother’s request of the dangerous task. However, she doesn’t hesitate; she faces the task on her own. Another example is that even though a wolf is standing before her, preparing to attack her, she is still not feeling afraid, as the story describes: “it was a huge one, with red eyes and running, grizzled chops; any but a mountaineer’s child would have died of fright at the sight of it” (162). Nevertheless, the girl still “seized her knife and turned on the beast” (162). Until now, what we can see is the contrast between an obedient girl and a brave girl. The character of being obedient and weak makes the girl in “Girl” in a traditional woman-liked position and the character of being brave makes the girl in “Werewolf” in a heroic man-liked position.
All in all, from the individual point of view, apparently, the young girl in “Werewolf” has a stronger heroic position than the girl in “Girl” according to the things they face and their attitude.
Secondly, I will use the social point of view to illustrate the similarity between the women in “Girl” and “Werewolf” to give you a big impact that actually both the positions of the women in the societies are quite low.
In “Girl”, as we know, the mother keeps telling her daughter what should do and what shouldn’t do, which I think can show the obedience of the girl. Besides, let us think about why the mother keeps teaching her daughter? It’s because the women in that society have a very low and unnoticed position; therefore, the mother thinks that being a perfect woman and wife is the best way to suit in that society and it’s the reason why her daughter is so obedient to her mother, as her mother is so obedient to the society. Furthermore, the mother follows what the society demands her to do, just as what she tells her daughter to do so, to be the low class in the society, what women should do is to know how to cook, wash, housekeep, shop, and so on. It seems to me that that society is controlling the fate of women, and in a narrower part, the control can be seen between different generations, it is a circle and it helps the society to keep controlling women, it never stops.
In “Werewolf”, we can also see the low and unnoticed position of women in the society. However, it’s somewhat different to “Girl” since the poor position of women in “Werewolf” can mainly be seen through the old woman. In “Werewolf”, we can know the standard of how people judge if a woman is a witch or not, if there is “some old women whose cheeses ripen when her neighbors’ do not” (161), then they are the witches, which I think the deeper meaning is that if someone is superior than the others, then they are considered to be witches, it is quite superstitious and not trustful. At the end of the story, the grandmother is killed just because of the wart on her hand, which the villagers think is the symbol of a witch, she is killed because of being a witch, indeed, she is actually a werewolf, not a witch. The ridiculous point is that she is killed by those villagers because of the wrong judge according to their distrustful belief. Until know, I can totally observe the very low position of old woman in “Werewolf”, they have no reputation, no position, no significance in that society, anyone can kill them if they are happy to give them a faint reason. Moreover, let us see what happens at the very end of the story, “now the child lived in her grandmother’s house; she prospered”(162). The story is predicting the happening of another tragedy: the girl is going to become old, like her grandmother, she will have the same fate as her grandmother. It is a circle, never stops.
Furthermore, I have to mention something more about the consequence of the society forcing the women. In “Girl”, although the mother is keeping telling her daughter the instruction to suit in the society, she has also mentioned about how to bully men at the very end of the story: “this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you;”(523), which I consider she is telling her daughter how to protect herself in spite of her wish to make her daughter a follower to that society. In “Werewolf”, we can see the same situation the old woman is protecting herself. As she is in the lowest position in that society, she feels hungry and helpless. She needs to protect herself from being lonely and hungry.
Because of this, she accepts herself to become a villain and to eat her granddaughter. To both of the women in these two stories, their behaviors are acceptable since it’s just a way to protect them while standing on their positions of being bullied. Nevertheless, in the social point of view, their actions are considered to be an aggressive one, which means they are fighting against the society, I have to admit that it’s true since their actions are not acceptable to the society; therefore, the society considers them the enemies as everyone thinks that the old woman in “Werewolf” is the evil in the society. Actually, the real evil is the society since what she does is what the society forces her to do. The old woman in “Werewolf” is very poor since she is not the winner at the end and it shows how powerful the society is. It controls everything, no matter what you do, you can’t be the winner and this causes the very low and obedient position of women in the society.
To conclude my second point of view, I think both the positions of women in these two stories are very low and unnoticed. I have to emphasis that in “Werewolf”, the significance focuses on the old women while in “Girl”, the significance focuses on all the women. Furthermore, we can know more in these two stories, which is that their positions are like a circle, never stop, from one generation to another one.
To conclude all of my points, although there are some differences between the positions the young girls in these two story, I think the difference is the way the author of “Girl” wants to make her story unconventional, although the girl in “Girl” has a heroic image in the society where woman is unnoticed, it doesn’t mean that the girl wants to fight against the society, it is just a unique characteristic in “Girl”. Therefore, I don’t consider we can see the real position of woman in “Girl” by the position of the young girl, which means that the individual point of view is a way to show the individual positions in these stories. My idea is that I think the social point of view is more important than the individual point, which means that the similarity outweighs the difference. The position of women in these stories is very low and unnoticed.