Bernice Bobs Her Hair
Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
When Marjorie and Bernice reached home at half after midnight they said good night at the top of the stairs. Though cousins, they were not intimates. As a matter of fact Marjorie had no female intimates--she considered girls stupid. Bernice on the contrary all through this parent-arranged visit had rather longed to exchange those confidences flavored with giggles and tears that she considered an indispensable factor in all feminine intercourse. But in this respect she found Marjorie rather cold; felt somehow the same difficulty in talking to her that she had in talking to men. Marjorie never giggled, was never frightened, seldom embarrassed, and in fact had very few of the qualities which Bernice considered appropriately and blessedly feminine. (25)
Here, Fitzgerald clearly defines the difference between Marjorie and Bernice – their conceptions of what a woman should be are dramatically, irreconcilably different. While Marjorie is bored by old-fashioned ideas of idealized femininity, Bernice clings to them.
As Bernice busied herself with tooth-brush and paste this night she wondered for the hundredth time why she never had any attention when she was away from home. That her family were the wealthiest in Eau Claire; that her mother entertained tremendously, gave little dinners for her daughter before all dances and bought her a car of her own to drive round in, never occurred to her as factors in her home-town social success. Like most girls she had been brought up on the warm milk prepared by Annie Fellows Johnston and on novels in which the female was beloved because of certain mysterious womanly qualities, always mentioned but never displayed. (26)
We get a privileged view into Bernice's outdated notions of femininity here – clearly, she's a result of her extremely sheltered and – dare we say it? – extremely spoiled upbringing.
"I think it's that crazy Indian blood in Bernice," continued Marjorie. "Maybe she's a reversion to type. Indian women all just sat round and never said anything." (34)
Marjorie's disparaging comment about "Indian women" plays in to her general disdain for other women on the whole, as well as old-fashioned definitions of womanhood.