What I find most interesting, and maybe I’m just late, but I like how the class is following a chronological order through history. It’s interesting to move from a novel like Red Harvest, or the movie “Miller’s Crossing”, moving through Ask the Dust, and now into Mildred Pierce. The common theme of femme fatale shows through, but the changes with era are nice to experience. For example, the thing that caught my eye was the idea that “receptionists” are a thing of the past, or the role of a mindless secretary had, according to Miss Turner, become a thing of the past. It caught my eye because I have also been watching the T.V. series Mad Men, which shows an advertising firm as well as the ins-and-outs of the business intertwined with the personal affairs of the men and women. The series is set in the very early sixties, and shows (as an aside or not part of the main plot) about how a woman, originally timid and lacking skills (much like Mildred) actually moves up in the company once she begins to realize her receptionist job will become a thing of the past.
With that out of the way, I have to say I have likeMildred Pierce so far, except for the details of her and Bert’s split are slightly foggy, it is shaping up to be an exciting novel. It’s interesting to see at one point she fantasizes about putting people in their place or fantasizing about how she was better then the waitress job, and it reminded me much of Arturo Bandini fromAsk the Dust. She doesn’t seem to have the same amount of time or luxury to daydream as Arturo did, but I feel much of same qualities exist.
Although Mildred finally gives up her hopes of a sales job or “respectable” job in order to feed her children, she does have a good amount of pride. I wonder where this sense of extreme pride came from? I mean she got married to Bert and dropped out of school, she has no notable accomplishments to feel proud of, her life is falling apart, her marriage is over, and the only really talent that is delved into so far is her ability to decorate cakes and pies. What does she have to feel so prideful about? And why is it so difficult for her to take ANYTHING that results in her children staying fed? To me, its a no-brainer.
One other thing I thought was interesting was that after she had slept with Willie once she got extremely upset with the whole ordeal and decided that she couldn’t do that, and she needed a nice job. Well…she didn’t get the nice job she wanted, and guess who’s back at the house? That’s right, Willy. The night where she hoped he would come, so that she wouldn’t have to worry about buying her work uniform the next day. Seems she has fallen pretty far in such a short period of time.