“Mannequin” by Jean Rhys

“Mannequin” was an interesting story to me about a young girl in Paris learning her way through modeling.  I like that the author described so many types of girls that the main character meets along her journey through the solon.  The main character Anna is the “mannequin”.  I see the term mannequin as being fake, plastic, and a creation of man.  Anna’s dream is to be one of the top mannequins and make a name for herself.  However, she learns that everyone in charge of her tells her what to do and how to do it.  Her life seems to be run by everyone but herself.  She even has a mother figure who watches over her and the other mannequins, Madame Pecard.  She tells them they can not smoke, can not act out, and can not be anything but what the clients what them to be.  She is a tyrant to the girls.  I see her as wanting the girls to be their best and also to make money.  The mannequins are the models for the clothes.  They stand in front of buyers and try to get them to buy the clothes that they are showing.  The theme that I saw in the story is Identity.  Does Anna really want to be this type of person?  She has to follow the rules and regulations  of how to live and act every second.  Throughout the story Anna is trying to find her way through the building that she works.  This is a symbol of a labyrinth.  She is running trying to find her way throught the building and her life.  She has to make her way through the world and find her own identity.  Another symbol mentioned in the story is the human flowers.  The mannequins and the way they look must be beautiful all the time, fresh, and young.  They are seen as flowers and they must keep up appearences to make it in their line of business.  Each of the girls that she meets of fellow mannequins, have their own characteristics.  The author makes me see that each girl can relate to a “type” of girl in real life.  They all fit in their certain roles.  There was a tomboy, a strange looking beauty, a gorgeous blonde, and an exotic girl.  They all were beautiful in their own way.  I felt bad for the character of Anna because first she is looked down apon for being the new girl.  She must fight for her place and her certain “look”.  I think that she needs to learn from the others and own her personality and appearance.  In searching for her identity, she must also chose if she wants to be controlled by buyers and bosses for the rest of her life.  She will always be the person behind the clothes and something to just look at.  The mannequin business seems to me like it would be a very competitive and tiring business always trying to please everyone but yourself.  I do not know if I see Anna that way.  She seems like she is younger and more naive than the other more experienced mannequins.  She must find her own way of doing things and not get lost in her maze of finding her true identity.

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