“Big Blonde,” a story of illusion and reality, avoidance and consequence, tells the tale of an aging party girl who makes a failed attempt at evading the truths of her life. Dorothy Parker’s incisive characterization and witty narration explore the social facades that mask loneliness and desperation. The story won the O. Henry Memorial Prize for best short story of 1929.
Hazel Morse is a big blonde. Like the other big blondes in her company, her life is an unremarkable stream of parties and men. Accepting unquestioningly that popularity is important, she strives to endear herself to many men. Hazel builds her external identity around an image—that of the good sport. At first it is easy, but gradually it becomes a matter of practice, for her to be cheerful and bubbly, carefree and gay. She begins to tire of the game and decides to marry, believing that this will enable her to discard the facade she had so carefully constructed. She soon learns, however, that the Hazel she presented at parties is the Hazel her husband wants her to be. When she ceases to be that Hazel, her husband grows disenchanted and leaves. Alone and without financial support, she falls into relationships with a variety of men, each expecting the jolly, compliant Hazel in exchange for their patronage.
Hazel cannot escape the consequences of the life she has chosen, nor can she escape recognizing the mistakes upon which those consequences are built. Her understanding...
(The entire section is 448 words.)