do the men of the story—including the doctor—regard and treat Hazel Morse?
How does Hazel regard and treat herself? To what extent are the views of both
Hazel and the men tied up with the idea of being a "good sport"?
"Big Blonde" by Dorothy Parker is the story about Hazel Morse's decline and fall. The title evokes an image of a big and attractive woman, and Hazel did everything to preserve this image,: "She prided herself upon her small feet and suffered for her vanity, boxing them in snub-toed, high-heeled slippers of the shortest bearable size" (Parker,1109). She also had long nails and her hands were "disfigured with little jewels" (Parker, 1109). When Hazel Morse was in her twenties "she met numbers of men and spent numbers of evenings with them, laughing at their jokes and telling them she loved their neckties. She was a good sport. Men liked a good sport" (Parker, 1109). Hazel failed to find an other goal in life other than to be liked by men, and because of that she lost herself in a haze of destructive relationships. Her feelings were those of inner emptiness, lack of clarity and confusion.
"For much of the span of the story’s narration, Mrs. Morse is a "kept woman"—the mistress to a series of married men. Her role in the men's lives is to entertain them and to comply with their sexual desires, in exchange for which they offer her financial support. Her only obligation is to have fun and be fun. She goes out at night to drink and socialize with various male companions and appears to do very little else" (Big Blonde: Working Woman).
The men in the story—including the doctor—regard and treat Hazel as a "big blonde" who is always in a good mood, and ready to entertain and amuse them. What is most important for Hazel is to act as a "good sport" because "men liked a good sport" (Parker,1109),: "And she had had a couple of thousand evenings of being a good sport among her male acquaintances" (Parker, 1110).
Whenever Hazel failed to be a "good sport" men lost interest in her, so she had to try to "cheer up" in order to attract men again. The men were explicit in their desires: Pull yourself together, …take that face off you. For God's sake, try and cheer up by then …" (Parker, 1120). The doctor was annoyed with Hazel's suicide attempt because he and his female companion were interrupted, and their evening was ruined. The way that he acted gave the impression that he also thought that Hazel was not a "good sport."
regards and treats herself the same way as the men regard and treat her. She is
acting as a "good sport" even though we get the impression that she
does not like to be that way or to live this empty life, but she does not have a
lot of choices. We know that she left her job when she got married, therefore
she became financially dependent on her husband which seems to be the universal
situation for women at that time. When Hazel got married she stopped being a
"good sport." "She had not realized how tired she was. It was a
delight, a new game, a holiday, to give up being a good sport" (Parker,
1110). Her husband Herbie "was not amused" (Parker, 1110) and he left
her. So, after that Hazel was a paid companion to the men that she met.
"The story presents a sad and biting view of a woman's life in the 1920s, an era often considered both fun and liberating for women. Parker does not depict Mrs. Morse sentimentally or even completely sympathetically, however; rather, she uses her character to make a cutting critique of gender dynamics and the subtle psychological forms that oppression can take in a supposedly modern and liberated environment" (Big Blonde: Introduction).
"Big Blonde: Introduction." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski. Vol.25. Detroit: Gale, 1998. ENotes.com. January 2006. 29 March 2006. http://www.enotes.com/big-blonde/22141
Parker, Dorothy. "Big Blonde." Fiction 100: Anthology of Short Fiction. Ed. James H. Pickering, Prentice Hall, 2004. 1108-1124.
Hardy, Madsen Sarah. "Big Blonde: Working Woman." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski. Vol.25. Detroit: Gale, 1998. ENotes.com. January 2006. 29 March 2006. http://www.enotes.com/big-blonde/22150