Kincaid's Girl consists of a single 650 word sentence, in which a mother is providing advice to her daughter about how to behave as a lady. A few clues are provided, such as the "little cloths" required to deal with menstruation, which indicate the girl is close to the point of maturing physically, and so needs to stop behaving like a girl, but now act as a woman.
It starts with providing practical advice about the correct way to do laundry and how to cook. It then graduates to advice with a more moral character:
on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so
bent on becoming
This phrase "the slut you are so bent on becoming" is repeated several ties throughout the piece, revealing the attitude the mother has towards her daughter. At this point the mother forbids her daughter to sing ‘benna’ in Sunday school: benna being a calypso-like genre of singing, "characterised by scandalous gossip" and a call-and-response format. It is clearly not a ladylike way of behaving. At this point the daughter’s voice answers, portrayed in in italics, and the piece becomes a dialogue, with direct speech being woven into the litany of advice. The daughter protests that she has never sung benna in Sunday school, so she is being cautioned against doing something she already knows not to do.
is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?... don’t sing benna
in Sunday school... but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and
never in Sunday school
The mother seems to ignore this reply though, and continues on giving advice on how to plant okra, how to attract a husband and so on, many times repeating the injunction not to become a slut. The daughter only speaks once again in the piece, when her mother is advising her how to buy good bread:
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