The Dress

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Assignment 12

”The Dress” by Julia Darling is a short story about jealousy and the troubles of single mothers with careers. It tells about the relationship between the two sisters, Rachel and Flora. It is a tense relationship, which finally breaks on their mother's fortieth birthday when Flora has stolen and ruined Rachel's dress. Rachel, unable to handle her sister anymore, goes to live with their father instead. Some time after the mother kicks Flora out of the house.

The mother in the story is a forty-year-old bereavement counsellor. She lives alone with her two daughters. We know that she is divorced, because the girls' father does not live with them but is not dead either. When Rachel and Flora start fighting, the mother is unable to solve their conflict, despite the fact that her job consists of helping people. ""Flora!" whispered the mother, who wanted life to be calm, a flat sea with no sudden breezes. She liked emotions to be explored in safe rooms, with a clock." (Page 3, line 103-104) The mother spends all day taking care of people whose lives are falling apart and wants to go home to a calm and relaxing life. She wants to stop focusing on others' problems and instead have people focus on her and make her feel loved. She does not want to have to deal with more troubles, not even from her daughters, whom she feels should at least pretend to get along on her birthday. When attempting to solve their problems, she would refer to deal with it the same way she deals with her clients, but she cannot, and she ultimately ends up neglecting them and partly causing the “loss” of her daughters.

The relationship between Rachel and Flora is very tense. It seems like it has been so for a while, judging by Rachel's reaction when Flora has taken her dress, and the fact that Rachel usually locks up her things to keep them from Flora. The reason for their tense relationship is that Flora is jealous of Rachel and wants to be like her. "It made her feel taller,...
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