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Literature / Big Blonde

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Dorothy Parker's most well-known short story Big Blonde tells the tale of a woman over the span of several years.

The story is about a woman named Hazel Morse. She starts out as a happy large-set woman who marries a man she meets named Herbie Morse. All is great for the first few weeks but soon they start getting on each others nerves and the marriage goes sour. Hazel turns to drinking to deal with her ever-distant husband but refuses to leave under the guise that she can fix the marriage. One day Herbie walks out and never comes back. Hazel turns to her new friends and another man named Ed, however her and Ed don't work out either. This leads to strings of dating and drinking with friends. One day Hazel starts having suicidal ideation and after fighting with her current boyfriend she attempts suicide. Her housekeeper finds her and three days later she wakes up from her coma. Still depressed and bitter, Hazel asks for a drink as the story ends.


Big Blonde was published in The Bookman magazine in 1929. It won the "Best Short Story" O. Henry Award of 1929.

Big Blonde provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Most major characters are alcoholics. Hazel starts out as hating alcohol but her first husband Herbie, who was an alcoholic himself, turns her into a social drinker. This soon spiraled into full-on alcoholism for Hazel. She couldn't go on unless she was buzzed enough to forget her problems.
  • Alliterative Title
  • Arc Words: "Here's mud in your eye".
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Hazel has a constant string of admirers and lovers. She was even a model in the 1910s. According to the text, during that time larger models were preferred to the skinnier ones of the '20s.
  • Big Fun: Deconstructed. Hazel starts out as a genuinely fun-loving woman but over time she becomes depressed. She finds out that her friends and lovers dislike her when she's sad, so she has to pretend to be happy.
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  • Cover-up Purchase: Hazel plans on killing herself with bottle of veronal and buys it alongside some make-up to make herself seem less suspicious. She notes that the cashier doesn't seem to care either way.
  • Domestic Abuse: Most of Hazel's lovers are emotionally abusive at the minimum and only want to be around her when she's happy. Hazel's husband Herbie is very distant, prefers not to be around her, complains when he's around her, and once gave her a black eye.
  • Downer Ending: Hazel is saved from her suicide attempt, but she's still a depressed alcoholic going through the motions and having various unfulfilling romances.
  • Driven to Suicide: Hazel attempts suicide by drinking a bottle of pills. It fails. She just goes into a deep sleep and needs to be pumped out.
  • Dude Magnet: Men really like Hazel, especially for her amusing personality.
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  • Christmas Cake: Hazel disliked being near 30 and unmarried so that issue helped her marry Herbie despite only knowing him for a few weeks.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Hazel and Herbie end up married within six weeks of meeting. It only takes a few months for their affection to wither.
  • Parental Abandonment: Hazel's parents are both dead.
  • Last-Name Basis: Hazel is usually referred to as "Mrs. Morse." "Morse" is not her maiden name however she never formally divorced Herbie.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: Other characters, including a doctor, see Hazel's suicidal ideation and suicide attempts as annoyances more than anything.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Hazel was still technically with Herbie when she began flirting with Ed, though their relationship was dead already. Ed is outright married with kids, but his wife is barely mentioned.

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