Dance of the Happy Shades and other stories, Alice Munro, The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf, fashion expectations, society judgment, patriarchy, female beauty, school dance, Mary Fortune, friendship
The first text we study here is a story from Dance of the Happy Shades: And Other Stories, which was written by Alice Munro in 1946. From the beginning of the text, the protagonist explains that her mom spends all of her time working on sewing her daughter's dress for the dance. She spends months on it, wanting it to be perfect. The young girl says that she was fine wearing the clothes her mom made for her, until she realized that it didn't correspond to the world's sense of fashion.
[...] So, as the boy is, Lonnie also seems to be a part of the what the protagonist has to do plan. After the protagonist and the boy are in front of her door, he kisses her. We actually don't know if she even likes him, but she is really happy about the kiss It was a good thing, I thought, that I had done that, for at my gate, when I said, "Well, good night," and after he said, yeah. [...]
[...] The fact that the protagonist could have done anything to prevent her friend from looking at her mom for too long because she felt ashamed tells a lot about the friendship : do they really trust each other? The protagonist really feels out of place. Therefore, that seems to change when she hides in the school's bathroom during the dance. There, she meets an older girl, who's also hiding. After talking to her, the protagonist seems impressed : Mary Fortune, who had suffered the same defeat as I had , still finds the willingness to continue, trying to find things to do, she doesn't let herself fall. [...]
[...] But most of the time, it has to do with men. And society has a twisted way to make women feel like they are lucky when a guy gets interested in them. It was the case in 1946, in 1990 and still today : a woman is supposed to find someone (or rather, a man), get married and have children. If it doesn't go that way, society, as well as most people, will make the woman feel like she missed something, that she failed . [...]
[...] Also, the relationship she has with her friend Lonnie seems a little odd : We had made a pact to tell each other everything , but at the same time, she also says At high school I was never comfortable for a minute. I did not know about Lonnie. or I didn't look for Lonnie. Lonnie was probably not going to be my friend any more, not as much as before anyway. Is it a convenient friendship? Is it because a teenage girl is supposed to have a friend with whom she has to talk about -among other things- boys? Are they even really friends? [...]
[...] She is afraid of what her friend could think of her mother. What could happen? The mom thinks her daughter is not being appreciative enough about the time and passion she is putting into the dress-making. I doubt if she appreciated it , but she doesn't actually ask her daughter about it, maybe assuming that she is just a spoiled kid. The protagonist, even though she is the one talking, appears to be passive : she let her mother decide what she is going to wear to a school dance she doesn't even want to go to. [...]
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