Red Dress 1964

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Red dress-1946 is a short story from Dance of the happy shades (a collection of short stories) by Alice Munroe. It is about the great social pressures faced by the narrator, surrounding the chronological events that take place before, during and after a school dance. The ‘Red dress’ is the dress her mother makes her for the dance, when she would clearly like to buy one instead from a store, this suggests to us that she can-not afford readymade clothes which then leads us to presume she is of a lower socio-economic class. The story is written from the point of view of an adolescent girl in 1946 who is growing up. It is in first person narration which effectively carries the anxiety of the protagonist making it personal and leading the reader to gain empathy towards the central character. The anxiety of the central character also leads to the initial tone of the piece, which is masterfully interchanging throughout the course of the narrative. The piece starts of as anxious, than as the events at the dance turn more promising the tone moves on to more calm, liberating and hopeful and finally as the story reaches its end it finishes off on a relieving and happy tone. The most significant theme that is explored during the course of the lead up to the dance, during the dance and after the dance is female adolescence. This encompasses many subthemes which include the mother daughter relationship, the importance of physical appearance and female self-consciousness, social hierarchy and popularity in school, womanhood and peer influence or pressure. The technique that the author has used to employ these themes and sub-themes is the use of both imagery and the protagonist’s perception of the situation through simply stating her thoughts.

The red dress is a symbol used to convey womanhood and female sexuality. The red dress in 1946 is the equivalent of the modern black dress. It oozes sexuality and womanhood. Through an analysis of quote; "My mother, never...
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