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Helen on Eighty-Sixth Street

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Eshika T

on 4 December 2013

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Transcript of Helen on Eighty-Sixth Street

"Helen on Eighty-Sixth Street"

Textual Support 1
"What is beautiful?" I ask Mom before the play begins.
"Why are you so worried all the time about beauty? Don't you know how beautiful you are to me?"
"Would Daddy think I was beautiful?"
"Oh, Vita, he always thought you were beautiful."
"Would he think I was like Helen?"
Thesis
In Wendi Kaufman's story "Helen on Eighty-Sixth Street," the main character, Vita, progresses from being insecure and full of jealousy to a hopeful girl who is not dependent on the thought of her father anymore. As a result of being able to perform the big lead in the play on her own, she comes to the conclusion that she doesn't need her father in her life.
Commentary (cont...)
"think"
Vita uses this word because she is dependent on what her father would consider of her.
Even though her father is not in her life, she still values his opinions.
This creates a self conscious tone because she is not very courageous, causing her to rely on what other people think, rather than believing she is beautiful no matter what.
Image
This painting connects to the story because the girl is like Vita since they are both self conscious.
The girl in the painting is insecure since there is a mess of paint on her face and you can't see her face properly which symbolizes her not believing in her own beauty, similar to Vita.
The tone of the painting is meek due to the fact we can not see her whole face because she is lacking confidence.
Textual Support 2
"I'm supposed to hit my fist against my chest, draw a hand across my forehead, and cry loudly. Mr. Dodd has shown me this gesture, practiced it with me in rehearsal a dozen times--the last line, my big finish. The audience is very quiet. In this stillness there is a hole, an empty pocket, an absence. Instead of kneeling, I stand up, straighten my tunic, look toward the audience, and speak the line softly: "And to say goodbye."
Topic Sentence
Diction like "absence" and "goodbye" aid in displaying a solemn and done-with tone. These demonstrate that Vita is finally saying her farewell to her father after a long time because she is now hopeful and has gained the confidence to believe in herself.
Commentary
"absence"
Vita uses this word because without her father in the audience at the play, she feels as though something is missing.
Her father's absence represents the change in how she feels about him from the beginning to the end. In the beginning she really cared about what he would think of her but in the end, she decided to not care anymore.
This creates a solemn tone because she is being serious and she changes her mindset so she now realizes that she doesn't need him.
Commentary (cont...)
"goodbye"
Vita uses this word because she is now officially letting go of her father.
It represents her not being dependent on what her father would think of her anymore.
This creates a done-with tone because now she has the courage to be herself and she's saying goodbye to not only her father, but her insecurities of thinking she isn't beautiful.
Image
The girl in the painting represents Vita and the feather depicts Vita's father.
The girl is letting the feather go, just like Vita let her father go from her mind.
The tone of the painting is solemn yet hopeful because even though the girl is giving up the feather, the light bluish-green around her suggests that saying goodbye isn't bad sometimes. Saying goodbye to her father made Vita become more hopeful and confident in herself.
Conclusion
By the end of the story, Vita became more confident and less jealous. She realized that she didn't need her father and that it was time to say goodbye. She also learned that if she believed in herself, she would be able to achieve whatever she wanted. In her case it was beauty and even though she had it all along, when she started to believe it, she actually felt beautiful.
Topic Sentence
Diction like "beautiful" and "think" help to convey a self conscious and insecure tone. These reveal that Vita wasn't confident in her self and didn't understand her own beauty because in her mind she needed her father to tell her she was beautiful.
Commentary
"beautiful"
Vita uses this word because she wishes to be beautiful but she's insecure about herself.
"Beautiful" is repeated a lot, emphasizing her desire to become beautiful. Her worries about beauty happen very frequently.
She longs to be as beautiful as Helen, who was thought to be "the most beautiful woman in the world".
This creates an insecure tone because she isn't confident enough to truly believe on her own that she is beautiful.
Full transcript