The Danger Of Playing The Spor The

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The Danger Of Playing The Spor: The 1920’s And Dorothy Parker’s “Big Blonde”t Essay, Research Paper The Danger of Playing the Sport: The 1920?s and Dorothy Parker?s ?Big Blonde.? The 1920?s and early 1930?s, also called the Jazz Age, was a time for fun and showing off. Dancing, going to dinner parties, and drinking and smoking with friends became the highlight of the times. The economical world had come to the forefront, placing great importance on commodities. Cars, jewelry, and an attractive partner were regarded as necessities. New promising careers became available to men, such as lawyers and bankers. The typical ?businessman? image had emerged, which is still valued today, nearly sixty years later. However, women?s economic opportunities remained limited, so they

were forced to play the game: to find a man who would provide these much wanted possessions and hopefully get married and have a family. Styles drastically changed. Gone were the days of the ?old-fashioned girl? and now was the time of the glamorous and sophisticated flapper. Women were letting their hair down, expressing their sexuality with newfound freedom. The days had come where they could finally be seen somewhere else besides the home, and that place had become on the arm of a man, especially for social gatherings. Marriage, money, and happiness were the new woman?s quest, and in most of their eyes the only answer was the opposite sex (Pettit 50). These expected and ambiguous gender roles, particularly the women?s role, of the time are interesting to study because they

show the shift that had taken place from the Victorian era, and can best be seen in the writings of the 1920?s and 30?s discourse. Female writers of that time best portray the shift that had taken place from the ?old identities? of the Victorian way of thinking to the ?new identities? of the speakeasies way of thinking. One of the most well known writers for these times is Dorothy Parker, a sarcastic and witty poet and writer also famous for her position at the Algonquin Round table (Acocella 76). Almost all of her poems and short stories deal with the relationship between men and women and the effect that the Jazz Age had on them, particularly the women in the situation. Acocella explains, ?We see them at the speakeasy, drunkenly complaining to their friends about neglect,

betrayal? (80). The best portrayal of the socially constructed gender roles and the hopelessness of male-female relations of the times is seen in Parker?s most famous short story, ?Big Blonde?, which won the O. Henry Prize in 1929 (Acocella 76). Because Parker?s own life reflected that of the protagonist, Hazel Morse, of ?Big Blonde,? most recent critics such as Joan Acocella, Nina Miller, and Brendan Gill among many others have taken a biographical approach in analyzing this story. However, it is also important to look at the historical period and the effect that the shift had made on gender roles, specifically feminine, which would explain the similarities between Parker and the character of Hazel Morse. Rhonda Pettit approaches ?Big Blonde? in this way by comparing two female

writers, including Parker and Loos, in their similar portrayal of the material girl in the Jazz Age. Cultural/historical criticism has been another way to approach Parker?s story, by examining not only the time period the story was written, but also the practices of the society in that time period. Ellen Lansky takes this approach, combining it with gender studies, and examines the effects of alcohol, which had become the most popular form of social interaction, on men and women and their relationships. Another cultural critic, Amelia Simpson, analyzes ?Big Blonde? through the black female?s role in the story. Each approach highlights some crucial aspect of Parker?s ?Big Blonde;? however, all of these approaches together serve to effectively analyze Parker?s ?Big Blonde.? I