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i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Bernice's Bob - EL 267

January 30, 2005

What I found most interesting about Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers" & Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" is the different way that each portrays women's treatment of each other.

In BBHH, Marjorie is disdainful of Bernice for being awkward around men despite her beauty. Marjorie says, "No girl can permanently bolster up a lame-duck visitor, because these days it's every girl for herself."

I feel that Fitzgerald portrays young women accurately. Women are still trained to be competitive about men and about their beauty. It is not unusual for one young woman to *steal* another woman's boyfriend. When all that a woman has to bolster her self-esteem is her physical beauty and the attention she receives from men, it becomes natural for her to be competitive.

Marjorie gets angry at Bernice for quoting "Little Women" saying that the book is out of style and "What modern girl could live like those inane females?" [I haven't read "Little Women" so I'm curious if this statement is really as ironic as it seems to be to me?] Marjorie continues, "Besides, our mothers were all very well in their way, but they know very little about their daughters' problems."

What teenager doesn't think that about her mother?? The case is probably more so in this story due to the cultural changes taking place, but I think the idea of a teenage girl thinking her mother is the most dreadful bore is a pretty common concept even today. Earlier, when Marjorie had her conversation with her mother, we can see that her mother thinks Marjorie is being ridiculous. To Marjorie, however, the idea of her lame-duck cousin is practically life and death.

What's interesting, I think, is that for Marjorie and many young women of her ilk, social interactions with men becomes a game. A man won't cut in unless he knows other men will cut in. So it becomes necessary for a woman to tolerate dullards just in the hopes that a more appealing man will choose to dance with her. Marjorie pours through her books in order to think of witty things to say each night. She never lets down her guard to have a really good time because she is so busy analyzing and planning her next move.

Towards the end of the story, when Marjorie perceives that Bernice has stolen Warren's affections, even though Marjorie had no real interest in Warren herself, she decides to attack. Poor Bernice never even sees it coming. She doesn't stand a chance against Marjorie because where Bernice is genuine and trying desperately to fit into Marjorie's world, Marjorie is still the queen bee: she who has the power to grant popularity also has the power to take it away.

Moira at 09:20 AM :: Comments (0) :: ::
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