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The Dinner Party

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  • October 2011
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The Dinner Party

Mona Gardner ties together clever characterization, careful conflict, and a surprising resolution in “The Dinner Party” to illustrate the theme that everybody has a different amount or self-control, no mater what their gender is. The story takes place in India, where people are meeting and a small dinner party is taking place. A colonel then begins to say a sexist remark. An American guest watches as the hostess tenses slightly, and calls for a bowl of milk. The American realizes there is a cobra in the room, then asks the other guests to see how well they can test their self-control, until they see the cobra too and the women scream as it is leaving. The host tells the colonel how he was right, until the find out that the hostess knew because the cobra slithered across her foot. Thus proving how the colonel was wrong, and self-control varies from person to person which can be shown through their characterization, conflict, and resolution.

In “The Dinner Party,” Gardner uses the colonel’s snotty attitude and the hostess’s calm manner to prove how self-control may vary depending on the person. The colonel says that “no matter how much self control a woman has, men will always have an ounce more, and it’s that last ounce that counts.” The colonel was right in one way, but he ends up being wrong too. The hostess was very calm and collected when the cobra crawled across her foot, and not arrogant in the least when she told the group how she had known because of this. Whereas the other women, and even men, had jumped onto their chairs at notice of the cobra in the room. Since the hostess was calm, not as the sexist colonel has expected, it showed how just the way they were characterized can prove that you can never guess the amount of self control a person will have.
By taking conflict and carefully turning it into a theme for the story, Mona Gardner finds a way to represent a...

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