Study Guide

Bernice Bobs Her Hair Part 1

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Part 1

  • It's a warm Saturday night at the country club, and we approach our destination from the outside. The curious heads of caddies, chauffeurs, and other spectators who aren't invited in surround the club, where a dance is taking place.
  • Inside, more onlookers await: the older generation of middle-aged matrons look on from the balcony, trying to make sure the young folks don't get up to too much trouble.
  • Finally, we see the real scene unfold before us – the dance floor, full of young, gorgeous, generally fabulous people.
  • The song stops and the dancers disperse.
  • One of the "stags" (partner-less guys) is Warren McIntyre, a popular Yale undergrad. As he strolls around the ballroom, we learn a bit about the other members of this social circle. We encounter Jim Strain and Ethel Demorest, who have been secretly engaged for years, but Warren's attention soon strays to other attractions.
  • The town has its share of beautiful girls, like Genevieve Ormonde and Roberta Dillon, who are practically famous with the young men of their generation – they're party girls that visit their male friends at college back East for big football games and dances.
  • Last but not least, there's Marjorie Harvey, Warren's big squeeze. They grew up across the street from each other, and Warren's been in love with Marjorie for ages. However, she's not entirely sure about him – she's fond of Warren, but can't help but dawdle with other guys when he's away.
  • Poor Warren. This summer, the Marjorie situation is even worse – she's got a dull cousin, Bernice, visiting her all August, and Warren hasn't been able to get close to her.
  • Cousin Bernice is nothing compared to her spitfire cousin. Even though she's pretty, she's not exactly the life of the party. However, he has to dance with her at every party, since Marjorie herself asks him to.
  • This weekend is no different – Marjorie comes up and asks Warren to rescue Bernice from Otis Ormonde, since the two have been dancing together for an hour.
  • It turns out that Otis is the one that needs rescuing. He's been trapped with Bernice for the last several dances because nobody will cut in on her, and he can't leave her without a partner. Otis, desperately bored, jokingly says that he'll even resort to knocking Bernice out to avoid dancing with her again.
  • Warren relieves Otis of his dancing duties, and takes on the burden of boring Bernice. Our narrator helpfully fills us in on some of the rules that dominate this social universe. Apparently, a girl's popularity can be determined by how often she's cut in on at a dance – if a guy has to dance with a girl more than once in a row, it shows that she doesn't rate too highly in the social hierarchy.
  • Bernice is her usual dull self, and has nothing to talk about but the weather. Warren, bored, tries idly to flirt with her…but it fails spectacularly. Bernice doesn't know how to respond, and when she tries to make conversation by gossiping about Jim Strain and Ethel Demorest, Warren (who's friends with Jim and Ethel) is totally not into her.

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