Alice Munro’s “The Red Dress” is about a young girl’s first high school dance. Her home and school environment determined her attitude towards the dance. The narrator in this story is a person who does not know where she belongs and she seems to be blaming her mother for most of her troubles. She wishes to be like Lonnie, her good friend that has no mother. This girl is not sure how things are supposed to be. She just wants to fit in, but she feels she does not know where. The character feels like an outcast this results in her being vulnerable, from that she dislikes her mother and because of that she is pitiful. This girl’s home life was bad, she constantly put down her mother and she probably feels very different than her mother you can say she thought her mother was repulsive. She made fun of her mother in front of her friend Lonnie, to the point that the narrator envy Lonnie on account that her mother died and she lived alone with her father that loves her but is not interested in her life. Her mother was crude in the house; the description that is given would make a person sick to their stomach. It is said that she did not take care of herself in the house, and exposed her big veins to the 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 in the way that she does not want to be seen in public as the daughter of the hideous monster. When Mason Williams comes to dance with her, she describes dancing with a ‘nobody’ like her was “as offensive to him as having to memorise Shakespeare. Pg 79 ” The narrator’s school life was just as bad if not worse as her home life that probably made her feel like an outcast, she seem to be vulnerable to the elements. 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. Pg 76″ 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. This is just a reference to many people that are unsure of the selves in allot of places.
Her attitudes towards the events in the dance made her look very pitiful, she feels like an outcast because of the dance. When she met Mary Fortune, she was “grateful for her attention, her company and her cigarette. Pg 82″ 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, so in a way don’t show your true self to others or it will result in you getting hurt. After she dances with Raymond Bolting, this attitude changes and her, she now was able to take risks. The narrator comes to the conclusion that she knows who cares about her. 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 situation. She can show her true self and not worry about being hurt by other peoples thoughts because she knows and is proud of who see is even though her mother is unrefined in public. Belonging is the key element in this story the narrator seems to be emphasising a lot on this. Munro,Alice. “The Red Dress” in Seasons of Life. ed. Taube, Eva Toronto: McLelland and Stewart, 1985