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The Dress

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The Dress Sometimes a dress is not just a dress, and sometimes it is all that is needed to take a family over the edge. The short-story "The Dress" by Julia Darling takes on the task to try and explain the complex structure of a family with an emotional build-up like a pressure-cooker that at some point has to let off steam. When girls borrow each others' things it is usually not a big deal - take my hat, want to try my new lipstick, here's my new shoes - but nobody likes it when their things get taken from them, get stolen, when you are forced to unwillingly let other people use your stuff, because you cannot stop them, and especially when the thief is someone you by nature consider your biggest rival - your sister. In the short-story the teenage girl Rachel experiences this type of feeling, this frustration of not being able to do anything and not being able to unleash her feelings on the person responsible - her sister Flora, who has stolen her beautiful new dress, who daringly and unapologetic has taken a possession though very well knowing that it is strictly off-limits. ...read more.


Their mother on the other hand not knowing what is wrong, cannot stop listening to a birthday party, where people are shouting and laughing and having a good time. She wants to turn around and have a look but feels caught up in the situation with her daughters, she feels sorry for herself, feels old and forgotten and unloved, like her life is standing still and she is left out on all the fun. She wants her daughters to make an effort for her, to show her that she is worth something and that she IS loved, but the girls are too caught up in their own business to even notice her. When Flora suddenly brings up Rachel's mood all hell is loose ""What are you angry about", asked Flora in a lightly whipped voice...". Rachel answers: "You know why I'm angry", but Flora denies all knowledge of the dress' whereabouts, making Rachel even angrier, eventually making her decide to never see the sister again. When back home Rachel packs her things and gets ready to leave. When her sister finds out that she is leaving she is shocked and confused, but still denies knowing anything about the dress, not yet ready to confess her sin and take the fall from power, and oblivious to the fact that this is not just about the dress anymore. ...read more.


The chronological way that the story is structured builds up frustration and anger in almost every sentence, making the reader aware that something has to happen in the end, somehow all these emotions cannot stay bottled up forever, and it is a very effective way of writing. The main themes of this short-story are probably jealousy, family and hierarchy. The jealousy and rivalry between two teenage sisters, and their constant pushing and testing of each other and fight for being number one in the hierarchy, the mother's jealousy towards people having fun, living the good life that she has always wanted and never can have. The question of how much or little it takes to destroy a family and how something as simple as a dress can take on so many meanings. The short-story "The dress" deals with just how dangerous emotions can become if not dealt with and talked about, how small things can ruin everything and push people over the edge, and how rivalry, jealousy and betrayal can break up a family, and last but not least how everything is not as it seems. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rikke Juelsgaard Petersen Til d. 22. oktober '08. Engelsk aflevering 3e, EG 1 ...read more.

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