Susan Allen Literature Essay

Submitted By jenjane37
Words: 627
Pages: 3

Shattered Romanticisms, Reconstructed Susan Allen depicted herself as a young, naïve girl at the beginning of the passage whose almost-utopian idealizations of the East, due to her supply of magazines and other informants, were shattered. Expecting to saunter into Smith College and fit right into the current trends, Susan Allen was horribly disappointed to find that the magazines she read had inaccurate descriptions of the ideal eastern fashion. As Allen so articulately describes, “Although I tried to revise my expectations, and achieve the faded, wooly look I saw around me, I was seldom satisfied.” However, her need to fit in with the students of Smith College compelled her to ultimately transform her incorrect sense of fashion and develop as a character. In the bildungsroman “Out East,” Susan Allen uses irony to belie a preconceived idealization of the East. Allen was introduced in the first few paragraphs as a freshman prepared for her “Out East” experience, only to inevitably acknowledge and accept that her anticipations were completely incorrect, thus producing an ironic outcome. Currier & Ives calendars, Mademoiselle, and The College Issue enhanced her disparate image of the East, and although she spent her time before college observing, studying, and memorizing the fashion techniques portrayed in such reliable sources, she soon realized that she was “both over prepared and still, inexplicably, shut out of Eastern fashion.” Expecting high society fashion from college students, Allen prepared her wardrobe ahead of time, to her ultimate dismay. When she arrived at Smith College her freshman year, fashion trends were quite the opposite, to say the least. Impressionable, Allen almost immediately attempted to conform to the existing trends: lazy, grunge, sloppy. However, Allen found it unusually difficult to imitate the effortless impression the other girls portrayed. Previously claiming that, “Clothes were a language I understood,” Allen tragically exposed her inevitably useless efforts to accomplish a certain look of sophistication and, ironically, concluded in proving her naivetés wrong. Formerly envious of the effortless fashion of the “Smithies,” the older girls at Smith College, Allen finally came to her own in the finale of the bildungsroman excerpt. Accomplishing the lazy look initially seemed easy to Allen, but she felt utterly lost due to her lack of money to purchase the necessary clothing and inexperience of looking lazy. In the eastern culture, image was crucially important to the young woman of that time, and it could quite possibly have been considered a crime to not dress or appear, in every manner, accordingly.