Monday, April 9, 2012

Big Blonde by Dorothy Parker

A little depressing, Big Blonde reads as a-day-in-the-life-of-an-alcoholic. Surprisingly, Mrs. Morse is not dead at the end of the story. You would think twenty sleeping pills would be enough to kill anyone. The character’s “fall from grace” is an interesting twist in the story. Instead of having a woman from the slums triumphantly making a better life for her, we have a woman who starts out on top of things; she is popular and works for her own living with generous assistance from admirers. Throughout the story, she begins to sink – one level at a time- into depression and alcohol dependence. Funnily enough, she looks to alcohol as her “up-lifter” when alcohol is a depressant. When Mrs. Morse becomes Mrs. Morse and trades her independence and self-reliance for relying on the kindness of men, she loses part of herself. While developing into the domestic housewife that is expected of her, she surrenders her self-confidence for the happiness of her husband and other men after him. She goes from a working class woman to a mistress, a kept woman. This story tells me that women of that time, and some even today, give up their chance for a viable future when they surrender to the standards of marriage. It reminds me of the movie Mona Lisa Smile. Julia Roberts plays a private-school teacher at an all-girls school in the 1960s (I think). She tries to get them to realize that they could have a life and career outside of marriage. She had one student who was accepted to Harvard Law School (if memory is correct), but the girl decided to get married and support her husband’s ambitions and dreams while putting all of her aspirations and talent in the trash. These girls were brought up to believe that they only needed education or a career until they married.

1 comment:

  1. Well, she doesn't want alcohol to "uplift" her--she wants it to numb her. It makes her numb enough to keep putting on the "good sport" act in order to maintain her living.
    Unfortunately, as Hazel proves, you don't have to enter into a marriage to find yourself defining your worth around a man. Hazel was never really independent--her entire psychic life revolved around receiving approval from her dates. I think Parker is trying to show a deep social illness that becomes extreme in Hazel, but that affected (and still affects) women raised in and defined by a male-dominated society.