In life, there will always be one person who influences you, impacts your decisions and aids you in your struggle for identity. It is of no importance whether that person is male or female, friend or enemy. In Alice Munro's short story, Red Dress-1946, the character Mary Fortune represents the symbol of influence. The main character in the tale, who remained nameless throughout the novel, was only able to discover herself with the help of Mary Fortune. Not only does the main character live a life defined by others, but she also does not know how to express herself and is not confident and unable to be at ease around others of opposite sex.
Throughout the story, it has been noticed that the narrator is a child who does not 'know' how to live her life. Hence, she listens to her mother and accepts every request/decision she gives.to her without any feedback or suggestions. The story deals with an ambiguity within the daughter where she senses the dependency of her mother and the female world whereas she at the same time has a strong need of defining herself as an individual. (Wessman 6). However, as the nameless character grows older, she gets 'wiser' and starts to wish for clothes like her friend Lonnie had. This is shown in the following quote:.
"Now grown wiser, I wished for dresses like those my friend Lonnie had, bought at Beale's store." (Munro 1).
An example of when she lives a life defined by others is when her mother is making a red dress. The girl does not like the red dress, but does not express her sentiments to her mother. With the quote, above, we can conclude that the main character wishes not to wear the dress, but with the lack of lack of confidence and insecurity, she has no other choice other than to follow along her mother's desires rather than her own. Another incident where the nameless character showed no self-confidence was when she had to go to the black board to write something down, she starting getting uncomfortable and scared.