Dorothy Parker Short Fiction Analysis
Dorothy Parker’s best-known stories are “The Waltz,” “A Telephone Call,” and her masterpiece, “Big Blonde,” winner of the O. Henry Memorial Prize for the best short story of 1929.
“The Waltz” and “A Telephone Call,” both dramatic monologues, present typical Parker characters, insecure young women who derive their social and personal acceptance from the approval of men and who go to extremes, whether sincere or hypocritical, to maintain this approbation. The characters, anonymous and therefore legion, elicit from the readers a mixture of sympathy and ridicule. They evoke sympathy because each is agonizing in an uncomfortable situation which she believes herself powerless to control. The waltzer is stuck with a bad, boorish dancer—“two stumbles, slip, and a twenty-yard dash.” The other woman is longing for a telephone call from a man she loves who does not reciprocate her concern: “Please, God, let him telephone me now, Dear God, let him call me now. I won’t ask anything else of You. ”
These predicaments are largely self-imposed as well as trivial and so they are ludicrous, unwittingly burlesqued through the narrators’ hyperbolic perspectives. Both women are trapped in situations they have permitted to occur but from which they lack the resourcefulness or assertiveness to extricate themselves. The waltzer not only accepts the invitation to dance but also hypocritically...
(The entire section is 1392 words.)
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