Bernice Bobs Her Hair
Identity Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
As Bernice took down her hair she passed the evening before her in review. She had followed instructions exactly. Even when Charley Paulson cut in for the eighth time she had simulated delight and had apparently been both interested and flattered. She had not talked about the weather or Eau Claire or automobiles or her school, but had confined her conversation to me, you, and us.
But a few minutes before she fell asleep a rebellious thought was churning drowsily in her brain--after all, it was she who had done it. Marjorie, to be sure, had given her her conversation, but then Marjorie got much of her conversation out of things she read. Bernice had bought the red dress, though she had never valued it highly before Marjorie dug it out of her trunk--and her own voice had said the words, her own lips had smiled, her own feet had danced. (82)
Huzzah! Bernice has reached a new point in her self-discovery – she is capable of making her own fortune. For the first time, she feels empowered and responsible for her own success, even if Marjorie helped more than a little bit.
Bernice stood on the curb and looked at the sign, Sevier Barber-Shop. It was a guillotine indeed, and the hangman was the first barber, who, attired in a white coat and smoking a cigarette, leaned nonchalantly against the first chair. He must have heard of her; he must have been waiting all week, smoking eternal cigarettes beside that portentous, too-often-mentioned first chair. Would they blindfold her? No, but they would tie a white cloth round her neck lest any of her blood – nonsense – hair – should get on her clothes. (106)
Finally, Bernice is pushed to the point of crisis. Her new identity, the daring flapper, comes up against her old one, represented by her beautiful hair (all-too-significantly confused with her "blood").
Twenty minutes later the barber swung her round to face the mirror, and she flinched at the full extent of the damage that had been wrought. Her hair was not curly, and now it lay in lank lifeless blocks on both sides of her suddenly pale face. It was ugly as sin--she had known it would be ugly as sin. Her face's chief charm had been a Madonna-like simplicity. Now that was gone and she was – well, frightfully mediocre – not stagy; only ridiculous, like a Greenwich Villager who had left her spectacles at home. (113)
With all vestiges of her old self removed, Bernice is like a different person – and not in a good way. She's at a certain middle ground here, stripped of her old persona, and without a definite new one.