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The Bra

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

What represents growing up to a young girl more than getting her first bra? A lot of girls are psyched about it, but not our Dicey. She’s not quite ready to be a grownup yet, and she’s never been a fan of girly stuff. But right from the beginning, we know it's about time she sucked it up. As Gram comes in the door from grocery shopping with James, she takes one look at Dicey and says, "You’re too old to go around half-naked" (1.26).

It takes Gram a good third of the book to get Dicey to the bra store, though. And when she finally does buy the contraption, Dicey’s not one bit happy about it; she describes wearing the bra as "feeling like a dog with a collar on." (4.212)

Why's she so against wearing one? Well, Shmoop's got a couple theories for you:

  • Getting a bra means facing not only maturity, but coming to terms with a new reality. There’s already enough new reality in Dicey’s world, what with the new home, new job, and new school, and now she can’t even run around bare-chested anymore.
  • Wearing a bra is a major rite of passage for teen girls, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, and Dicey's not too keen on that change.
  • They're a sign of what's coming down the pike, which is a whole slew of things Dicey's not ready for. As Gram says, "It's not just the bra, Dicey […] The bra is just the beginning."
  • They're really uncomfortable.

But you know what? Just as Dicey gets used to the idea of friends and boys and siblings who can handle themselves, she gets used to wearing a bra. The bra scene is just the first step in Dicey’s maturing into a teenager with a teenage social life. Once she fastens that clasp, we know what's coming, and we know she's one step closer to being ready.

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