The Hundred Dresses Part 1 is the 5th Chapter in CBSE class 10th NCERT English book- First Flight. It is taken from a book with a similar name – The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. It is a semi-autobiographical story that was inspired by the writer’s own experiences in school. So yes, it is almost a real story or at least as close to reality as it can get. This chapter is available in free PDFs online for the readers to appreciate it without much problem. Here in this blog, we give you a brief description of the hundred dresses part 1.
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Summary of The Hundred Dresses Part 1
The Hundred Dresses Part 1 revolves around a Polish-American girl, Wanda Petronski who is teased, taunted and made fun of by her classmates due to her unusual name, faded clothes, low-income family background and difference in culture. The story starts with the statement that she is absent from the class, and no one seems to care or think anything. The writer then describes this friendless girl’s daily routine who sits quietly in the back corner of the class not because she belongs to the rowdy corner, but the reason is something else. But this reason is not given to the readers directly, and we are made to think about it and guess.
We are told that Wanda is missed only in the early mornings before classes and then in the noon after classes when they were going home. Why do people wait for her, though? Do they like her company? Absolutely not these people wait for Wanda so that they can make fun of her and tease her. 2 people who are more insistent and consistent in this routine are the two friends Peggy and Maddie, so much so that they even get late waiting for her.
Peggy is the most pretty and popular girl in the school, and Maddie is her inseparable best friend. Peggy started the game of asking Wanda how many dresses, shoes and hats she had in her closet? And Wanda would always answer “a hundred” dresses and “sixty pair of shoes” were lined up in her closet. We are told that Peggy was not a cruel girl by nature. In fact, she used to save children from bullies and could not see cruelty against animals. But she was still bullying Wanda. In her defence, she would say that Wanda was not normal like them because she lied and had an unusual, difficult name, and she never made her cry.
Maddie whereas is very different from her best friend and does not like teasing Wanda. She felt embarrassed and uncomfortable when she had to witness this whole game. She wished Peggy would stop but didn’t have the courage to ask her to stop, being scared of becoming the next target for these bullies. Then her thoughts wander to the drawing competition’s results ahead. She thought Peggy would win since she was better than others in the drawing.
The Hundred Dresses Part 1 story ends with the announcement that Wanda won the drawing competition and her “exquisite” drawings which were displayed in the classroom being admired by all the students including Peggy and Maddie.
Also Read: English Speech Topics for Students
Here are the major character sketches for the chapter on The Hundred Dresses Part 1:
Peggy is the prettiest girl with curly hair and the most beautiful dresses in the story of The Hundred Dresses Part 1. She is also the most famous girl in the school whose best friend is Maddie. She is the person who invented the game of asking Wanda how many dresses, shoes and hats she had. She is described as a person who cared for and helped younger helpless people against bullies and would feel sorry and cry at the plight of animals, but she finds no problem teasing and bullying Wanda because of her difference. It might be because she isn’t aware that her behaviour is cruel and hurtful. She would even defend herself, saying that Wanda was a liar and was different from them and was not normal. Moreover, they never made her cry.
Another important character in The Hundred Dresses Part 1 is Maddie. Maddie is the more sensitive girl in the Maddie – Peggy duo. She feels guilty about not standing up against her friend when she is hurting Wanda. She is very distraught when she realizes that she had been an accomplice in bullying their classmate and hurting her feelings. She didn’t want to tease Wanda but was scared of voicing her concern because she was afraid of being the next victim of these bullies herself. She understood Wanda’s state is not so well of herself.
Wanda is the girl who is at the centre of the story of The Hundred Dresses Part 1 but is absent from the scene where the story takes place. Her absence gives us a lot to think about and reminds us of her silence throughout the story when she was teased. She is absent from the class and the story because of all the bullying and harassing she has to face in school. Being different from everyone else, she regularly made a butt of jokes. But she remains stoic and consistent in her assertion of having hundreds of dresses lined up in her closet. She is very talented, which is proved by her beautiful drawings winning the drawing contest.
Wanda said she had hundred dresses and sixty pair of shoes in her closet. We are not told why she said this but from the story we can guess that she might have said that to save herself from the bullies initially and then she stuck to the assertion because she actually drew hundred beautiful dresses which she submitted for the competition and then won due to her talent.
Eleanor Estes wrote a hundred dresses. The title is significant because the story revolves around this poor little girl who doesn’t have the resources to buy and wear new clothes like her other classmates. She wears the same clean but ill-fitting, faded blue dress. She is teased and targeted due to her different name and background, though she proves that all differences are superficial in talent and humanity. And through her talent, she can earn those hundred dresses that she dreamed of by drawing them and maybe someday designing professionally.
Wanda wins the competition by drawing the hundred dresses she used to talk about and describe to the girls, all in beautiful colors, textures and shades with different styles. Everyone, even Peggy and Maddie is awestruck by the beauty of the dresses displayed in front of them and the talent of the quite girl showcased in them.
The Hundred Dresses Part 1 is a sensitive story that deals with bullying and discrimination and how it is so prevalent in our society that people sometimes do not even realize that their behaviour is hurtful and how it may affect the psyche of the person being bullied. This story despite being written about 60 plus years ago still resonates with the current society due to its strong moral ground and how it teaches us to be better individuals in life by being sensitive to other people’s feelings. Wanda is bullied by her fellow students but is always silent in class and has no friends to share her feelings with. Maddie and Peggy are the main bullies who are described as the ones who are consistent to the point that they wait for her on the way to school just to tease this little innocent girl. The moral of the story is a very important lesson that we all can learn from this story that discrimination and bullying are social evils which should be banished from our society and the children especially should be made aware of the consequences of it on the victim’s psyche so that it is something that they don’t follow themselves and stop it if they see it happen in front of them.
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