"Bernice Bobs Her Hair" (F. Scott Fitzgerald) is a short story I've read for Dr. Jerz's American Literature 1915-Present course. Several future entries will also contain reflections on stories read for this course.
Short story. Big message.
I really enjoyed this story, because I can relate to it. I'm sure everybody goes through a point in life where they feel inadequate. (Some of us go through it every day, hah!) This story has such a simple message, but it's an extremely important one.
The main character, Bernice, grows and develops the entire way through the story. Here is a broad explanation of the plot:
Bernice is visiting her cousin Marjorie, a very popular girl and wise in the way of gaining men's attention. Bernice sees her behavior as unfeminine and distasteful. After a rousing roast by Marjorie, Bernice believes there are many improvements she needs to make in her appearance and personality. She decides to let Marjorie be her "coach" the remainder of the visit.
After teaching Bernice everything she knows, Marjorie is pleased with her creation. Bernice is finally capturing the attention of men. What Marjorie quickly realizes is that Bernice is stealing her thunder. Warren McIntyre is Marjorie's puppet. She believes no other girl has any interest in him, and that she can be with as many men as she wants and Warren will still follow her around.
Until Warren took a liking to Bernice, that is. Before a party, Marjorie tells Bernice she should forget about Warren, that he doesn't care about her. Bernice knew Marjorie was upset because Warren was "her property"
All through the story Bernice tells everybody she is going to have her hair bobbed. It was simply a line she and Marjorie cooked up to capture people's attention and start a conversation. To get back at Bernice, Marjorie calls her bluff in front of everybody at the party. Bernice is then forced to go to the barber and have her hair bobbed to probe she isn't all talk.
Well, the haircut is awful, completely ugly. Everybody in the barber shop sees it. Bernice followed through just to prove a point to Marjorie. It turns out that there's another small twist to the story, but you can read it and find out! I personally feel it's not that important. Just adds a higher shock-factor.
That night, Marjorie pokes fun at Bernice some more, and she decides to go home. Before she leaves, she cuts both of Marjorie's braids off while she's sleeping. As Bernice is dashing down the road, she passes Warren's house and flings the braids on his porch. -----
I probably will not write out the plot for future reflections, but this was such a short story, and I feel it would be very confusing to somebody who hasn't read the story to understand the reflection.
As I said before, the message in this story is so important and classic. To thine own self be true. I got the impression that Bernice honestly felt that there was nothing wrong with her, and there wasn't. Just because she didn't attract attention does not mean she was an undesirable person. The things Marjorie thought to be important were, in reality, very UNimportant and catty. I also think that the story shows the difference in the time periods. To most women now education IS very important and a wonderful thing to discuss with men, because I feel any sensible person, male or female, values a good education.
I also felt the story followed the movie pretty well. Granted the physical descriptions of Bernice and Marjorie were different. Of course, I noticed a lot more detail in the book. Warren's thoughts and feeling were more important in the story than in the movie.
I loved the story, short and sweet, great message, very well written. I'm a fan of Fitzgerald's work. I loved The Great Gatsby when I read it for honors cultures in 9th grade. His writing is so descriptive. I definitely recommend "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" to anybody looking for an excellent, quick read.