The Little Girl Notes include meanings, summary, themes, message, character sketches and literary devices. These notes of the class 9 English lesson ‘The Little Girl’ will help students in having a good understanding of the lesson.
The Little Girl Notes
The Little Girl is sensitive story of a small girl Kezia. Through Kezia, the story explores the different forms of parental love. It also explores the evolution of Kezia as a character from a timid, young girl to one who matures in her understanding of her father and his love for her.
Figure—shape; Avoid—keep away; Casual—without deep affection or interest; Respond—reply; Glad—happy; Relief—comfort; Carriage—car; Faint—slow; Staircase—a set of stairs; Drawing-room—common room for visitors; Paper— newspaper; Slowly—gradually; Push—to use force to move something away from you; Spectacles—eyeglasses; Terrifying—frightening; Hurry up—do quickly; Stutter— stammer; Properly—in a right way; Matter—case; Wretched—worried; Brink—position; Suicide—kill oneself; Carefully—with care; Yawn—an act of opening one’s month wide and inhaling air deeply due to tiredness; Giant—gigantic man; Stretch—expand; Handkerchief—a square cloth carried in one’s pocket for wiping one’s nose; Snoring— sleep noisily; Gravely—seriously; Cold—blowing of nose; Suggest—produce any idea; Silk—a fine, strong, soft, lustrous fibre; Laboriously—with hard work; Stitch— sew; Wander—move without aim; Scrap—residue of something; Gathered—collect; Stuffed—to fill; Hue and cry—noise; Surprise—gift; Scream—cry; Straight—a part of something that is not curved or bent; Instant—that very moment; Drag—pull; To and fro—backward and forward; Sharp—loud; Explain—to make something clear; Whisper—to speak in a low voice; Fetch—go and bring; Damned—used especially to express anger in; Instant—a precise moment of time; Lay—put to bed; Shadow—darkness; Pattern—arrangement of shapes; Floor—surface; Ruler—scale; Beat—hit; Belong— related; Palm—the inner surface of the hand; Wrap—cover; Rock—shake; Clung—hold; Sob—weeping silently; Forget—unable to remember; Quickly—hurriedly; Gap—hole; Fence—wall; Tag—a children’s game; Hanging—falling down; Shaking—moving with short quick movement; Hose—pipe; Cook—a person who cooks food; Afraid—frightened; Nightmare—frightening dream; Grannie—grandmother; Socks—a short stocking reaching a point between the ankle and the knee; Butcher—a person who kills animals; Dreadful—fearful; Shiver—tremble; Creep—crawl; Snuggle—warm; comfortable and protected; especially from the cold; Tight—firmly; Rub—to press and move; Tired—lose of energy; Hard—difficult; Stir—mix by shaking.
Broadly, The Little Girl can be divided into:
- Kezia’s Biggest Fear
- Sunday Afternoons
- Father’s Surprise Birthday Gift
- The Punishment
- The Macdonalds
- Mother’s Illness
- The Nightmare
- A Change of Heart
Kezia’s Biggest Fear
- Kezia lived in constant fear of her father.
- Kezia was always happy to listen to her father leave for work every day.
- When he returned, she would delay going down to meet him.
- It was her fear of her father that caused her to stutter whenever she was around him.
- In turn, her father would mock her stutter and threaten her with a visit to the doctor.
- This only fuelled Kezia’s fear as she never stuttered with anyone else.
- On Sundays, Grandmother sent Kezia to the drawing room for a chat with her parents.
- Mother would be reading, while her father slept snoring on the sofa, a hanky covering his face.
- Kezia sat on a stool nearby and watched him seriously.
- When he awoke, Father scolded her not to stare, calling her a “little brown owl”.
Father’s Surprise Birthday Gift
- Once when a cold kept Kezia indoors, Grandmother suggested that the little girl should make something for Father’s birthday which was due next week.
- Grandmother advised Kezia to make him a pincushion with a piece of yellow silk.
- Kezia diligently started sewing the pin-cushion but needed something to stuff it with.
- She went into Mother’s bedroom searching for scraps.
- On a bedside table, Kezia found some fine paper which would work perfectly.
- Taking them with her, she shred the paper and stuffed them into the pin-cushion, sewing it all up.
- The same night, there was a commotion in the house.
- Father had lost the speech he had prepared for the Port Authority.
- When Mother asked Kezia, the little girl admitted to taking the papers.
- Mother dragged Kezia down to Father and explained what she had done.
- Father ordered that Kezia be sent upstairs to her room.
- After a while, Father entered her room and punished her, hitting her palm with a ruler.
- Later, her grandmother comforted Kezia.
- Kezia could never forget the incident.
- Kezia, one day, watched her next-door neighbours, the Macdonalds.
- Unlike her father, Mr. Macdonald played with his five children every day.
- Kezia watched them laugh and have fun. She realised there were all kinds of fathers.
- Kezia’s mother took ill one day and had to be hospitalised.
- Grandmother accompanied her mother to the hospital, leaving Kezia alone in the house with Father and the cook, Alice.
- As she went to bed, Kezia confided to Alice that she was scared of nightmares and the dark.
- Grandmother would always take her to bed and comfort Kezia during her nightmares.
- Alice calmed Kezia down and put her to sleep.
- Kezia, however, saw a nightmare of a butcher with a knife and a rope moving towards her.
- She awoke shivering and screaming to see Father standing by her bed.
- When she told him of her nightmare, he picked her up and took her to the bedroom.
A Change of Heart
- Kezia’s father tucked her in bed and lay down beside her, letting her snuggle up to him.
- As he comforted her, Kezia calmed down.
- She realised that Father was too tired because of work and couldn’t play with her like Mr Macdonald.
- She sympathized with him and felt he wasn’t that big after all.
- As she listened to his heartbeat, she wasn’t as afraid of Father anymore.
The major themes of the chapter are:
- Interpersonal Relationships
- Parental Love
- A running theme through the course of the chapter is that of interpersonal relationships and how they evolve over the course of the story.
- The major event is of course the way Kezia changes in her understanding of her Father and his feelings towards her.
- Little Kezia, at the beginning of the story, watches her father timidly, unsure of how to react.
- The incident with her father scolding her for her stuttering speech left a profound effect on her and she is more fearful of Father.
- Kezia realises how wrong she was about him when Father comforts her during her nightmare.
- She feels that Father is just as alone as her in house and not the towering “giant” she was afraid of.
- Kezia’s feelings transformed for her father when she understood his situation.
- Empathy to understand other people’s situations in life is important when it comes to interpersonal relationships as can be seen in Kezia’s change of heart.
- The chapter is an example of parental love, as Father who isn’t as communicative about his love for Kezia, expresses it in little ways.
- Despite being preoccupied, he finds time every morning to kiss her before leaving for work.
- During her nightmares, he takes her to the bedroom and comforts her.
- Father’s parental love takes over when he sees Kezia in distress.
- The story illustrates that sometimes parents are incapable of communicating how much they love the child.
In a family, inter-personal relationships between parents and their children, siblings and elders and a congenial atmosphere in the family is very important for a smooth and successful life.
For better relationship the first and foremost factor is mutual interaction and regular communication among the members of a family because through communication only we can understand each other’s aspirations, expectations, desires, strength and weaknesses in a better way.
The following characters were part of The Little Girl:
Sensitive: Kezia is a very sensitive little girl, watchful and very afraid of Father. She is deeply hurt when punished by Father.
Timid: Kezia is fearful of Father. She views him as a ‘giant’ and stutters around him.
Innocence: As a little girl, she is too innocent to comprehend how her father loves her in his own way.
Hardworking: Kezia’s father is a very hardworking man. He is very sincere when it comes to his work.
Quiet: Although he is non-communicative about how much he loves Kezia, Father expresses his love for her in little ways.
Disciplinarian: Father doesn’t listen to Kezia’s justifications on why she tore up his speech. Instead, he hits her with a ruler.
Stern: Father often scolds Kezia for her timidity and her stuttering.
Kind: Kezia’s grandmother is a kind lady who tries to help Kezia overcome her fear of her father. She consoles Kezia when Father beat her.
Adviser: She suggests to Kezia to spend time with her parents on Sundays. She also advises Kezia to surprise Father with a birthday gift.
- Point of View
Point of View
- Mansfield has narrated the story through Kezia’s point of view as an innocent child struggling to understand her father’s nature.
- Through her point of view, we see the transition from her fear to love and sympathy.
- Father calls Kezia a ‘little brown owl’. This indicates how scared she was of him as she watched him wide-eyed.
- Little Kezia also views her father as a ‘giant’ as he is considerably bigger than her.
- Father uses exaggerated statements while addressing Kezia.
- This is illustrated in the lines:
- ‘If you stutter like that mother will have to take you to the doctor.’
- ‘Mother, I wish you taught this child not to appear on the brink of suicide.’