Thursday, April 5, 2012

Song of the Shirt, 1941 by Dorothy Parker

Mrs. Martindale seems too good to be true. I love the way that she is described. The description of Mrs. Martindale coincides with the description of the lovely day. The alliteration used by Parker, such as “delicately done”, “so softly sheltered”, and “fragrant forties”, only add to the enjoyment of the story. The tone changes a bit when Parker begins to describe “Headquarters” and the work the Mrs. Martindale does to help the war effort. It changes from frivolity and liveliness to more of a classroom setting with the headmistress, Mrs. Corning, being the strict schoolmarm. Yet, almost immediately after Mrs. Martindale leave headquarters, the tone changes back to the carefree, light-hearted atmosphere that opened the story.

Mrs. Martindale is a dedicated patriot, which is to be commended, but she seems to be a little on the not-so-bright side of things. She is a wealthy woman who hasn’t had to do much for herself until the war broke out. She doesn’t know how to sew, which was the most common knowledge among women of this time. Although credit should be given towards her dedication, the end of the story really throws off the perfect picture one has of her. There is no doubt that she has a big and gracious heart. She is just not very clever. At the end, she has the opportunity to get help making the shirts. She doesn’t realize it. It completely goes over her head that the person who could “use Mrs. Christie” is herself.

1 comment:

  1. Good thinking here. Parker likes to write characters whom she finds stupid--pretending that her narrator is completely objective, but actually giving away her authorial attitude through understatement and satirical tone.