Alice Monro Red Dress Analysis

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Societal Boundaries in Selected Fiction Human beings crave conformity, that is, the act of adhering to social norms. To conform is one of our most basic instinct passed down from our cavemen ancestors. It dictates that there is safety in numbers. Society imposes what one should be like before one was born, from who one’s parents are, to what gender and sexual orientation one should be of. In the short stories “Red Dress-1946” by Alice Monro, and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the writers explore the notion that the societal boundaries of more conservative times inflicted on the protagonists can cause significant and irreversible negative impact on their lives. To begin with, the pressure on the protagonists to conform will cause disconnection…show more content…
Throughout the story, her father is never mentioned, and although she claims she has a ‘brother’ (191), he never makes any appearance in the story. The main familial relationship then, is between the narrator and her mother, who the narrator states (albeit not openly) that she is ‘embarrassed by’ (Munro, 188). When the narrator was younger, she used to wear ‘these cloths’ (188) made by her mother, of the strangest fashion, and she had taken ‘pleasure’ (188) in doing so. It presents the argument that the narrator and her mother used to be more intimate than they are now, when the narrator has ‘grown wiser’ (188), an euphemism for the fact that she has come to understand all of society’s normative ideals, and want to stay within these boundaries. With the narrator and her mother though, it is not that they cannot communicate for serious social backlash will occur, but that the narrator wishes not to communicate directly with her mother, expressing her opinions. She will rather ‘knelt down’ (191) and expose her throat to the bitter winter wind in hopes of catching a cold, then directly telling her mother that she ‘did not want to go’ (190) to the Christmas dance. She is so worried about what others will think of a girl who dislikes going to the dance that not even Lonnie, with whom she made a ‘pact to tell each other everything’ (190), was privy of this knowledge. The pressure to be nothing more than a normal, ‘gay’ (194) teenage girl causes her to dislike conversing with her mother, who, unlike Josephine, is not a fully conformed member of society either, thus a source of embarrassment for the daughter. The narrator wishes for nothing more than a normal family, where her dress shopping can be done at ‘Beale’s store’ (188) like her friends, and her mother will wear ‘corsets or stockings’ (188) around the house. The longing for a different family causes her to slowly disengage with

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