Significance in The
In this novel by Russell Banks, a girl named
Nichole Burnell is crippled and spends the last summer of her “childhood” playing with
Barbie dolls with her little sister, Jennie.
I think little girls playing with Barbie dolls are trying to grow up, because Barbie is a young adult and has a fully developed body, wears makeup, and drives. She also engages in many different careers, making her a role model to young girls. I think Nichole playing with Barbie dolls symbolizes her growing up, as ironic as that is.
Barbie was introduced in 1959 at the American Toy
Fair in NYC.
She was invented by Ruth Handler (co-founder of
Mattel) and named after Ruth’s daughter, Barbara.
She originally cost $3 and her accessories and clothes sold for $1-5.
Her boyfriend, Ken, was named after Ruth’s son and he was invented in 1961.
Barbie came in either blonde or brunette, and red hair was introduced in 1961. Barbie did have a black friend named Christie who was introduced in
Barbie was from Willows, Wisconsin and was a teenage supermodel.
Barbie was actually inspired by a
German doll named Bild Lilli.
The Sweet Hereafter
Nichole Burnell is in an accident and emerges with injuries which confine her to a wheelchair.
The summer after she became crippled was the last summer of her childhood, because after that, she had to grow up.
She spent a lot of time playing with her younger sister, Jennie, and usually they would play with Barbie dolls. Maybe another symbol of the Barbie dolls is that she is grieving over losing the rest of her childhood. She is too old to play with the dolls so she plays with them with her younger sister.
Barbie doing “grown-up” things such as driving, cooking, wearing makeup, getting married, and having a job.
Weiss, from Toys R Us, says, “Barbie was intended to be a model of bubbly teenage innocence,” and that “she projected every