Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Dorothy Parker’s style is direct, lively, and fast-paced. The third-person narration holds the characters at a distance: Mrs. Morse is an admonitory example, and while readers of the story may pity her, they are not invited to identify with her.

Dialogue is natural, quick, and immediate, though used sparingly. Much of the story is given to exposition, in the historical past, again enforcing a certain detachment. Parker offers few if any closeups of love scenes or hate scenes, or highly dramatic moments. Although the circumstances of the protagonist change, she does not undergo significant development; that is not the author’s intention. Rather, Parker anatomizes a character type.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Women’s Rights
In 1920 the 19th Amendment to the Constitution passed, giving women the right to vote for the first time. This...

(The entire section is 541 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Big Blonde’’ is set in New York City during the 1920s. The story reflects certain conflicts in this moment in...

(The entire section is 789 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1920s: Forty-seven percent of American college students are female, signaling gender parity in higher education for the first time....

(The entire section is 374 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

None of the characters in the story seems to understand why Mrs. Morse is so sad. Contemporary psychology and medicine might explain her...

(The entire section is 277 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

In 1995 ‘‘Big Blonde’’ was performed by Elaine Stritch on a Penguin audiocassette entitled Dorothy Parker: Selected Stories.

(The entire section is 17 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

The Complete Stories (1995) edited by Breese, Breese, and Berecca, compiles all of Dorothy Parker’s narrative writings, including...

(The entire section is 286 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Douglas, George H. Women of the Twenties. Dallas, TX: Saybrook, 1986.

Maugham, W. Somerset....

(The entire section is 197 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Calhoun, Randall. Dorothy Parker: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Gill, Brendan. Introduction to The Portable Dorothy Parker, by Dorothy Parker. New York: Viking Press, 1973.

Kinney, Arthur. Dorothy Parker. Boston: Twayne, 1978.

Meade, Marion. Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? New York: Villard Books, 1988.