“The Dress” is a short story about a dysfunctional family, consisting of two sisters, Flora and Rachel, and their mother. Flora has stolen Rachel’s dress, spilled a drink upon it and afterwards buried it in the garden. The conflict erupts during their mother’s birthday meal at a restaurant. Once at home again from the restaurant the crisis results in both girls leaving the house – leaving their mother behind, alone, with a glass of wine.
The setting of the story is not distinctly described as it is not crucial for the understanding of the story. The story only features three characters: Flora, Rachel and their mother. Rachel comes across as the bigger sister, frustrated with Flora’s carelessness. Her rage against Flora for stealing the dress is unusual keen, concerning the fact that it is only a dress – “only a scrap of material”, as Flora at some point exclaims. As a reader you immediately get a sense of a smouldering danger just beneath the surface. Something undefined, yet ominous. Flora is obviously conscious that what she is doing is wrong. But while she understands that her sister will not be pleased with her stealing the dress, she could not possibly imagine the hatred it would release. Flora is ignorant and careless, but she is only immature – not vicious.
Their mother is a bereavement counsellor, but despite this she is unable to deal with the daughters constant intrigues. When she is at home she has a need to distance herself from her professional work, and therefore she only wishes to be in a loving and caring environment. This results in a neglection of her daughters, which has obviously had an effect on the two sisters. Rachel depresses her feelings, and is unable to handle them:
“.. Rachel knew that she would have to be pleasant, to forget about her stolen dress, wear something else, and smile.”
, and Flora is desperately trying to get her mother’s attention. The mother feels unsafe about facing serious problems... [continues]
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