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The Dress

I enjoyed reading the first half of this novel it kept my interest even while reading it at work. Like our professor asked I re-read the first paragraph and thought about what might be behind the words, aka trying to read between the lines. After doing so my conclusion is the author was trying to say that heroines (or heroes) are not always who we picture them to be. She describes Catherine as being a daughter who, until she got older, was less than pretty. Later in the story there is actually a compliment made by one of her parents, they state that she almost looks pretty that day. Her dad seems to be a normal guy but her mom is somewhat of a heroine for her time. After giving birth to multiple children before Catherine most are amazed that she lived through the pregnancy and birth of her daughter. This could be seen as foreshadowing, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that her mother’s strength rubbed off on Catherine giving her the ability to be a heroine during her lifetime. This strength isn’t seen until a little later in the book, a few chapters after having left home we find Catherine attending a ball with Mrs. Allen we see Catherine wishing she had an acquaintance, one whom she could talk to and escape the awkwardness of being single. Catherine, however, does not attend this (and many other balls) in the clothes from home. She gets somewhat of a makeover and is put into a new dress, one which is meant to attract men of a higher social class. This is an example of how materials can govern how people view others. This is not only true in this novel and during this time period, but it is also very alive in society today. Those who can afford Coach, Prada or Stetson are still seen as being “better” based solely on material goods. It’s a great example of being mistaken when you judge a book by its cover. Because Catherine changed her appearance she is appealing to an audience of men who believe she is better than say her sisters based on the fact she has a nice dress. I’m interested to see how this novel turns out and how she deals with the men who seem to come into her life half way through the chapters.

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One thought on “The Dress

  1. Great point. There appears again to be a strong distinction of classism assessed with “things”. Whether it be the prada, coach, or Stetson, woman and people associated with a “betterment” for having material goods or even access to them. Society today still values materials goods and classism in a similar regard. Good read.

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