Girl and Great Falls Essay

Pages: 4 (1341 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality


Moreover, the authoritarian voice assumes that the narrator is "bent on becoming" a slut (477). The maternal voice almost preprograms the narrator to become a slut. Her sexual identity is formed through mixed messages. She is told she is "bent on becoming a slut," but she must fight that so-called urge with socially acceptable behavior.

Richard Ford describes gender role differentiation and social identity formation in similar ways as Kincaid, addressing the key issues of sexuality, gender role rituals, and parent-child conflict. In "Great Falls," Ford's protagonist Jackie tells the tale of his parent's break-up, of his mother's affair and his father's response to it. Through his eyes, the reader ascertains how Jackie develops his sense of self and especially his notion of male identity. While Kincaid focuses on female gender roles and norms, Ford focuses primarily on male gender roles and norms. However, the two authors simply broach the same subject from different perspectives.

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More so than Kincaid does in "Girls," Ford focuses on the parent-child conflicts and parent-child relationships. The protagonist Jackie describes mainly his relationship with his father but he also recounts his relationship with his mother. Jackie also forms an attachment to the man who his mother has an affair with: a male role model who is like the alter-ego or counterforce to his father's role. Jackie and his father seem to get along great: they go hunting and fishing together and Jackie seems to spend a lot of time with his dad. Their bond is not openly emotional, however, as is evident in their reactions to the mother's affair. When Jackie meets Woody, he notices how masculine he appears, describing the veins and muscles in his arms in a way that he never did for his father. Jackie even goes so far as to say, "I wondered how I would ever get to be like him, since it didn't necessarily seem so bad a thing to be," (344). Jackie has two central male role models, unlike the narrator of "Girl," who has an indeterminate number of female role models.

TOPIC: Essay on Girl and Great Falls All Assignment

Like Kincaid, Ford describes gender-based social rituals. In the case of "Great Falls," the protagonist describes typically male gender-based social rituals such as hunting, fishing, and working on airplanes. These male rituals characterize Jackie's father as well as his alter-ego, Woody. Through these male social rituals, Jackie forms his sense of self and realizes his differentiation from women. Because Jackie is male, he knows not what social rituals drive females, except for the fact that his mother tells him, "I like a domestic life, is all," (Ford 348). Jackie's response, a simple "I didn't see what she meant by that," demonstrates the great gender divide that is evident in "Great Falls" as much as it is in "Girl" (Ford 348).

As with "Girl," sexuality is a key component of "Great Falls." The name of the man who Jackie's mom has an affair with is Woody, a sexually symbolic name. Furthermore, Jackie's formative experience, the break-up of his mom and dad, centers around their sexuality. Jackie learns, or fails to learn, about his own sexuality and his role in the male-female relationship through his parents' example. When Jackie's father casually inquires about his sex life, Jackie clearly expresses disinterest in that realm of life; he has yet to encounter the power of male-female sexual encounters and how they impact the male-female relationship. Jackie's lack of understanding of his father and mother's sexuality as well as his own mirrors the treatment of sexuality in Kincaid's "Girl."

Both "Girl" and "Great Falls" describe the psycho-social-sexual development of their respective protagonists. "Girl" deals with the evolution of female gender-based identity, whereas "Great Falls" describes the acquisition of male identity. Both stories use the key components of parent-child relationships, social gender-based rituals, and sexuality as springboards for the discussion of sexual and social identity formation.

Works Cited

Ford, Richard. "Great Falls." The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. (pp. 338-349)

Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Norton Introduction… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Girl and Great Falls" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Girl and Great Falls.  (2005, June 2).  Retrieved July 30, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Girl and Great Falls."  2 June 2005.  Web.  30 July 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Girl and Great Falls."  June 2, 2005.  Accessed July 30, 2021.