The Red Dress by Alice Munro- STRIPPED OF OPPRESSION

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Throughout life there is always one person who influences you, impacts your decisions and aids you in your struggle for identity. It is of no importance whether or not that person is male or female, friend or family, younger or older. In the story The Red Dress by Alice Munro, the character Mary Fortune represents this individual; this influence. The main character in the narrative, who remains nameless, is only able to discover herself through the help of another. Mary Fortune instilled a sense of confidence in the main character by presenting her a path that lead away from the majority.

The girl experiences a profound life altering change in the story. At the beginning of the story the girl is portrayed as an unsocial, insecure individual and an outcast in society. She fails to interact with any characters in the story, even those closest to her, (i.e. her mother, her peers, and her best friend). She is unable to express any emotion or opinion on any subject matter, even when it directly concerned her. Her lack of self-confidence and self-esteem holds her back from living life they way she pleases, forcing her to live a life others think best for her.

An example of when she lives a life defined by others is with the red dress her mother is making for her. The girl hates the red dress but does not express her sentiments to her mother. Her mother always wanted a red dress made for her as a young girl, and therefore assumes it was what her daughter, the girl, wished also.

"Now, grown wiser, I wished for dresses like those my friend Lonnie had, bought at Beale's store."

From the quotations above, we can conclude that the main character does not wish to wear the red dress. Her lack of confidence and insecurity causes her to follow along with her mother's desires rather than her own. The red dress is a symbol of a life other than her own, depicted by her peers and parents. The main character is trapped in a world of strangers and unhappiness when she...
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