Women / Womanhood
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
If we look critically at "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," we might see that there's more to it than meets the eye. Yes, it is a story about two very different cousins and their summertime adventures – but, beyond that, it's also an allegory for the changing social mores of Fitzgerald's time. Bernice, Marjorie, and Mrs. Harvey all represent different kinds of womanhood, and different sets of social beliefs, and their interactions demonstrate to us the conflict between tradition and modernity. The old-fashioned world that Mrs. Harvey (and Bernice's unseen mother) represent is one in which "all young ladies who belonged to nice families had glorious times" (31), and Little Women was still a model for feminine behavior. Marjorie, on the other hand, lives in a modern world where a girl has to earn her own popularity. Poor Bernice is stuck in an odd transitional period in between these two ideological spheres, and the conflict of the story is really her struggle to move from one to the other.