(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

The unnamed narrator, who is ten years old at the time of Sheryl’s trouble, is in love with the idea of love; and in Sheryl, the little girl finds a real model, not a play model like her Barbie doll. Sheryl might not have fallen so quickly into the deadly trap of love if her father had lived and had returned his own car to his own garage on the day of his death. Catapulted into Rick’s car by her father’s early death, Sheryl is still too young to play the game of love with Rick at a time when she still expresses her fascination with the Barbie doll and its wardrobe of clothes, which are cleverly seductive and are clearly designed to attract what would years later become the Ken doll. Not for Barbie and her outfits the real world of living, of loving, losing, compromising, and bearing children only to lose them to houses for unwed mothers, to bitter divorces, or to death by war or by natural causes, even to worn down youth, early marriage, early pregnancy, low wages. Witness Rick with a wife and three children, listlessly looking through the narrator’s house after it is put on the market.

The ten-year-old narrator, however, is struck by the beauty of the youthful romance and sees Sheryl as a Barbie doll come alive. One evening, with a playmate, Diane, the narrator witnesses Sheryl and Rick saying goodnight. In the light cast by Sheryl’s open front door, the children witness Rick’s face pressed into Sheryl’s chest and her arms around his head....

(The entire section is 540 words.)