1. [A]lways 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 bread?
In this final line of the story, the mother interprets the baker’s potential refusal to allow the daughter to touch the bread as a sign that the daughter has become a social outcast, undoubtedly a slut. Kincaid uses the words “feel” and “squeeze” to turn the act of buying bread into a metaphor for sexuality, and the baker’s refusal is therefore a sexual rebuke. In response to her daughter’s innocent question, the mother seems to explode in anger at her, as if one impertinent question demonstrates the futility of advising a stubborn and undisciplined girl bent on becoming a slut. The daughter’s question and lack of an answer from the mother also highlight the inability of the mother and daughter to communicate on any level, much less a meaningful one. The mother’s final words also make her seem unfair, unsympathetic, and almost cruel. Readers suspect that it won’t be long before the young daughter grows to resent her mother and her implications of her promiscuity, if she doesn’t already.
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