The Dinner Party



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Essay:

The Dinner Party


        Stories can create a complete atmosphere with characters reacting and acting differently with different views; "The Dinner Party" demonstrates this statement using its character cast who all have different views on whether or not women have gotten past being afraid and only screaming. The story has its own message carried by the characters, who barely have specific names besides "hostess," getting wrapped around the idea that women are no longer screaming towards events such as a mouse running around. In the story, the message, or the theme, is women truly have surpassed the days in which they screamed at the sign of peril. One example of the author using the characters to express the message is she used a young girl and a colonel who were guests to spark the conversation. To add, the author uses the hostess of the party to show how women are what the young girl had said. The story also uses the colonel to show people can be arrogant, adding yet another message.
        The young girl, who begins the discussion about how women have changed, begins the whole story and brings about the message. She created the message, and in a manner of speaking, her character makes the lesson apparent. The colonel arguing against her allows the message to have conflict; the reader becomes unsure of the message, but the young girl insisting she is right about women no longer screaming when trouble arises allows the author to prove her point later on. The argument they have together make a tense ambiance, yet the author is able to apply the theme with only the words the young girl was supposedly using. "A spirited discussion springs up between a young girl who insists that women have outgrown the jumping-on-a-chair-at-the-sight-of-a-mouse era and a colonel who says they haven't" (Gardner 1).
        In the next instance, the hostess of the party proves the young girl correct with her actions. When a snake appears at the party, she had found out about it, but we, as the reader, didn't know how. After the American naturalist helped get rid of the snake, he asked her how she figured out there was a snake underneath the table. "A faint smile lights up the woman's face as she replies: 'Because it was crawling across my foot" (2). The author uses this to show that women are past the era they are often stereotyped for being afraid of trouble and screaming. At first it seems like the man, the American naturalist, was the one who showed control in the situation. In actuality, the hostess was the one who had shown total control, for she had not let anyone else know there was a snake and reacted calmly.
        In the third example, the author uses the characters to show a message is different from the previous examples. The colonel is again used in this example, yet for a separate reason. When the hostess shows control, the colonel is shown to be arrogant for thinking women still lean on screaming and being out of control. When the author uses this character, she manipulates the way the character acts by creating his ideals that were geared in a direction that oppose the general message. "'A woman's unfailing reaction in any crisis,' the colonel says, 'is to scream. And while a man might feel like it, he has an ounce of nerve control than a woman has. And that last ounce is what counts” (1). The author makes the colonel look like a fool for thinking such a thing; by creating an action for the character, she portrays the lesson heavily.
        "The Dinner Party" has an author with exceptional ability to use their characters to display a message throughout the story. The young girl character introduced in the preamble of the story provides the message in clearly stated words. The author also uses the hostess of the party, Mrs. Wynnes, to show how women truly are over uncontrollable screaming. Finally, the author uses the colonel to establish a message about arrogance. The story has been elegantly crafted to use the characters to show the theme of the passage; all of the characters introduced are used in a way to suggest the message and meaning of the piece, which is why the author excels in the idea of using characters to create a message. To conclude, the manipulation and usage of the characters are beneficial towards the entirety of the theme, for they are the base the story is built upon.


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