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The Dress by Julia Darling is a short story about the deteriorating relationship between particularly the two sisters Flora and Rachel, but also their relationship to their mother.

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The Dress "The Dress" by Julia Darling is a short story about the deteriorating relationship between particularly the two sisters Flora and Rachel, but also their relationship to their mother. A certain dress is the pivotal point of the dispute that ends up having serious consequences. In the following analysis and interpretation I will unravel the tangled threads of the complicated affair by giving a characterization of the mother, elucidating the relationship between the two sisters, and giving an account of the composition of "The Dress" and its effects. In addition to this, I will touch on the symbolism and the themes of the short story. The mother of the two mature sisters is forty years old, and it is her birthday. Already on the first page, where Rachel finds out that Flora has taken her dress, the reader gets the impression that the mother is less capable of handling conflicts domestically than on her job: "... ...read more.


The children's perpetual fights are too much for her to cope with: " She felt sorry for herself. All day she had sat with tearful needy people. It was her birthday, and she wanted to relax. She wanted to feel loved."2 In the end her neglect of her daughters leads to her "loss" of not only Rachel but also of Flora. She unwillingly pushes her daughters away form her by not dealing with their disputes. The relationship between the two sisters is mostly characterized by perpetual intrigues and jealousy. They both fight for the attention of their mother, who sadly cannot cope with both her clients' and her daughters' problems, but in very different ways. Rachel tries to identify with her mother by being very tidy and neat and thereby accommodating her mother. Because of her very demanding job the mother has a need for order and tidiness in the house: "Rachel walked back into the blue kitchen, with its neat bowl of shining apples [...] At one end of the table was a neatly folded pile of used wrapping paper..." ...read more.


Another remarkable feature of Julia Darling's composition is the change of POV. This provides the reader with a much more nuanced picture of the entire affair and gives the reader an insight into the many motives behind the sisters' and the mothers' behaviour. Julia Darling uses numerous symbols to emphasize atmospheres, feelings and motives. For instance Rachel's black dress and red earrings symbolizes her feelings and hatred toward her sister. Furthermore, Flora's distinctive scent, which hangs in the air hours after she has left a room, has the added meaning that she takes up a lot of space in her sister's life. "The Dress" deals with the theme of single mothers with careers trying to get their everyday to work. Julia Darling also touches on the rivalry between siblings and the possible motives. One message could be that there is always something under the surface. 1 The Dress, p. 8 l. 27-28 + 23-25 2 The Dress, p. 10 l. 96-97 3 The Dress, p. 8 l. 13-14 + 20 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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