Essay Analysis of Hair

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Essay Analysis of Hair
Daniel West
English 103
Dr. Turner


The essay Hair written by Maria Alderich, is an analysis of women during the 1950’s need to conform, rebel, or fit in to societies social standards and the inner conflict it caused in women’s identity. The essay is Alderich’s firsthand account of the females in her immediate family and how they use their hair styles to define themselves and represent their self-identity.

In the preface, the reader is given a brief but informative insight into Alderich’s literary background. In this brief introduction the reader is told that Alderich is the author of Girl Rearing, a memoir about growing up in the ‘50s (pg.49, Atwan). This small piece of information is vital to understanding the mindset of the women in the essay and the tone of the essay as a whole.

During the ‘50s, the views of women’s role in a family and their position in society over all were drastically different than they are now. These expectancies are the driving force behind the argument that Alderich’s is trying to make in writing her essay. In an attempt to demonstrate to the reader her mother’s never ending obsession with her hair, she writes,” Just as mother seemed to like her latest color and cut, she began to agitate for a new look” (pg. 50 Alderich). Through explaining the frustration and dissatisfaction of the women in her family with their hair, Alderich is able to argue the conflict experienced by women of the 1950’s in their attempt to fit into their societal roles. In proving this argument Alderich uses her mother as her main support.

The essay begins with Alderich explaining to the reader the importance of her mother not washing her own hair. She writes,” I’ve been around and seen the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon and Marilyn Monroe’s footprints…but I’ve never seen my mother wash her own hair”(pg. 49, Alderich). Alderich starts the essay off in an anti-climactic and almost sarcastic voice in order to...