Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 875, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Berriault. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berriault. Show all posts

11 November, 2011

Gina Berriault, "The Woman in the Rose-Colored Dress"

The story is written in first-person POV of the twelve, tomorrow thirteen, year old girl, Mary. She wears a grown-up dress to a party for adults. She's telling the story some time in the future and evidently "that party" was a turning point in Mary's life. We do not know who the party is celebrating but the mother tells her that they'll will pretend the party is for the girl. When Mary realizes that her father has been intimate with the woman in the rose-colored dress, the twelve year old matures and instantly her eyes are uncovered.

I like that the girl wears (pale) green which is a complementary color to rose (red). I also like the way Berriault writes the paragraph where Mary sees herself in the past as though it is someone else, "as if I were observing another girl from a corner of the room."

The story is barely four pages long and only takes place during the party but it portrays the spark that this young girl will always remember. Her mother and her family's life before and after she knew of her father's infidelity. A second level of Mary's maturation is seen in this revelation, "With my discovery of my father and the woman, I hadn't thought about her," meaning her mother. She also instantly realized that her parent's issues were not hers and that the adults' complications were not hers, knowledge not hers to do anything with but nevertheless Mary would never "see" adults in the same fashion.

FAVORITE LINE: "Whenever I glanced up I met a glance, and nobody spoke jokingly to me the way they do to a child, and when men came up to me they treated me with a kind of knowingness, as if I were already steeped in the experiences I had only imagined."

LINKS:
Wikipedia page about Berriault
Rea Award page about her
a 1997 New York Times article
Google Books site, the entire story collection, Women in Their Beds is posted here
The story is also available at Narrative Magazine online