The short story “The dress” is written by the Irish author Julia Darling in 2006. The short story is about two siblings, Rachel and Flora, who lives alone with their mother. It was the birthday of the mother for the two siblings, and Rachel had bought a new dress for the birthday celebration. While she was searching for the dress in the house, she had the thought that her sister Flora must have taken it, which made her angry. Flora had the dress and she was at a café with her Italian boyfriend Alberto. Whilst Flora was at the café with Alberto, her cocktail slipped out of her hand which resulted for a horribly stain on the front of the dress. The family met up in a luxurious restaurant as planned, to celebrate their mother’s birthday. The siblings escalated slowly a discussion about the dress, which initiated the family to an unpleasant dinner. When they arrived home, Rachel wanted to move out to her father even though Flora admitted that she damaged the dress. The mother charged Flora that she was a thief, which resulted for that Flora also ran away. The history ended with a lonely and depressed mother in the house Rachel is the older of the two sisters, which constitutes that Flora wants to be like her. The younger sister Flora is envious of her sister Rachel’s maturity and appearance, and that’s why she is longing after the desire to be like her; Flora is longing for the same structured life as her sister has. She is very envious of her sister Rachel, and I can make these inferences by her behaviors in the text. The enviousness of Flora gives a start of desiring to be like her, which means that Rachel is the maturely pioneer among them. The text introduces us to a scattered Flora even in the start of the text. .. wading through disordered heaps of crumpled discarded clothes, empty cigarette packets, broken lighters, dried-out mascara brushes and lidless lipsticks. It smelled sweet and slightly rotten. Hereby, we can conclude that Flora is still a teenager and she is not successful as her sister Rachel. It is quite normal that she is yearning to be like her sister, as it would captivate the mother’s attention. Flora is haughty and naïve with the believing of that she can do what she wants to, and satisfy her sensuality with brittle behaviors, such as taking dress without any permission of anybody. The text starts with Rachel, where she stays in the shadowed hallway, screaming Flora’s name over and over. She is screaming so loud that her whole body shook. This scenery effect, occurs the readers that something is wrong between these siblings; why should Rachel scream at her sister so loud? The siblings may have internal problems since Rachel is screaming at her. As specified, Rachel is the older which means that she is the grown. She knows better to work out a problem than Flora does, as it’s seen in the restaurant; her mother asks her the matter for why she is scowling, and she’s just answering with “nothing”. She knows how to solve a problem without being the annoyance of the mother; she doesn’t want to make her mother feel bad. As suggested, Flora is the immature. She cannot behave genuinely in a desperate situation; that’s assuredly because of her puerility. She is not suitable to make the best of a bad situation, which shows us that she is still in an adolescence mode, or maybe not? Presumably, Flora can be a vigil girl, who wants to make her sister fail beside her mother, with the way of thinking that she can outmaneuver on Rachel. As example, I can specify the situation, were Flora comments Rachel’s scowling-answer: “Cheer up then.” giggled Flora, scattering crumbs across the white tablecloth. “It’s a celebration”. Flora is comments like an innocent girl. She is poking around into Rachel’s overtaxing anger limit, with the hope of that Rachel explodes her madness on Flora beside the mother. In that case, Flora can show the mother that Rachel is not that perfect anyway, and be the “better” girl. The mother is unnamed, which indicates in that her identity is in her capacity as a mother. The short story is during on the mother’s fortieth birthday. The mother is a well-paid woman, and I can suggest that the family is set in an upper-class environment, since they’re celebrating in an expensive restaurant. It’s important to the mother that she always has strong emotions: The mother works as a bereavement counselor, which also reflects to a modern woman. Therefore she just wants to feel loved when she came home, as she sat down with tearful needy people every day, but the love aren’t not among them. The mother is quite observant, and she observes directly the problems between the siblings. She is quite good to handle problems out with comments as: This is lovely isn’t it!” exclaimed the mother”. The mother is good to attempt critical situations, and she is objective in situations such as the problem with the dress. The short story is depicted by an omniscient (all-knowing) narrator, who can mind read the characters. The point of view in the text is not only connected to one character, but it is changing between the three characters in the text: Rachel’s POV: ll. 1-30 and ll. 105-155
Flora’s POV: ll. 31-49 and ll. 155-195
Mother’s POV: l 50-104 and ll. 196-199
The most included symbol in the text is the dress. The dress give an effect to Flora, that makes her feel look alike and feel like Rachel; the dress envies her when Rachel has it. The dress represents all the perfect things for Flora. In the end of the story, Flora tries to clean up the damaged dress, but she knows that she can’t: this can be symbol for their relationship is damaged as siblings. Another symbol can be that she buries the dress, which may allude to that she buries her relationship to Rachel. As I recognized, the two main themes in this text are: “importance of love” and “coexistence as family”.
[ 1 ]. The dress by Julia Darling, page 8, ll 5-9.
[ 2 ]. The dress by Julia Darling, page 8, ll 64.