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Short Story – Red Dress: How A Girls Home And School Environment

Short Story – Red Dress: How A Girl’s Home and School EnvironmentDetermined Her Attitude Towards the Dance
The short story “Red Dress” by Alice Munro is about a young girl’s
first high school dance. Her home and school environment
determined her attitude towards the dance.

This girl’s home life was bad. She was constantly put down
mentally by her mother, even in front of her friend Lonnie, to the
point that the narrator envied Lonnie on account that her mother
died and she lived alone with her father. “`I doubt if she
appreciates it.’ She enraged me, talking like this to Lonnie, as
if Lonnie were grown up and I were still a child.” Her mother was
obscene in the house; the description that is given would make one
sick. It is said that she did not take care of herself in the
house, and exposed her lumpy veins to the in-house public. This
probably made the narrator think that she is also ugly because she
came from this disgusting creature. This makes her attitude
towards the dance understandable. When Mason Williams comes to
dance with her, she describes dancing with a `nobody’ like her was
“as offensive to him as having to memorize Shakespeare.”
The narrator’s school life was just as bad if not worse. She
would never be sure of herself when she is called up to the
blackboard. Her “hands became slippery with sweat when they were
required to work the blackboard compass.” She would also envision
the worst case scenario, that she had her period prior to being
called to the front of the class, even when impossible. This
shows that her self-esteem is really low, and she could not deal
with the dance.

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The dance was an experience in itself. Her attitudes towards the
events in the dance also show her attitude. When she met Mary
Fortune, she was “grateful for her attention, her company and her
cigarette.” This shows that not many people pay attention to her
and that she doesn’t have many friends. Her mentality is that if
you can’t deal with rejection, don’t get the chances to get
rejected. After she dances with Raymond Bolting, this attitude
changes and her “life was possible”, she now was able to take

The narrator’s first high school dance was not as big a disaster
as was anticipated. She learned a big lesson that could only be
obtained by this experience. She understood that her paranoia
should not be there, and that she can live her own life despite
her home and school life.


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