Helena Viramontes' Miss Clairol Essay

1624 Words 7 Pages
Helena Viramontes' short story, "Miss Clairol," takes the reader through a day in the life of Arlene, a single Hispanic mother, and her daughter, Champ. They begin their day at K-Mart in search for just the right beauty products for Arlene because she is going on a date that evening. After leaving without paying, they spend the day at home. Arlene prepares for the date while Champ assists her, watches television, and fixes herself dinner. Once Arlene is sufficiently fixed, she leaves for the date, ignoring Champ as she yells goodbye. Although I had to read "Miss Clairol" all the way through several times in order to develop a full understanding of the story and its purpose, I needed no extra reading to understand Arlene and my feelings …show more content…
Every time Arlene has to make a decision on anything, including hair style, eye shadow color, and hair color, she asks Champ her opinion on the decision, always expecting positive feedback. The majority of the dialogue between Arlene and Champ consists of questions such as, "Will this color go good with Pancha's blue dress?" and "Should I wear my hair up?" (79). She needs someone to tell her that she looks good so that she will feel good about herself, and she chooses Champ to do the job. Her obvious dependency on verbal reassurance is frustrating enough, but the fact that she lets her daughter fill that gap in her life is infuriating.

After painting this vivid picture of a classless mother, Viramontes goes so far as to classify Arlene as romantic (80). The romance that Arlene is associated with, however, is entirely based on sex. Directly following the comment "Arlene is romantic" is the glamorized version of Arlene's first experience making love that she plans to share with Champ later in life. This experience took place when Arlene was merely eleven years old; therefore, all she has ever known about love since very early in her life involved sex. Furthermore, her entire process of getting ready for the date evolves around the sex that will accompany it. She

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