Dominique Essay, Research Paper
Dominique and Her Determination for Identity
“Dominique” is a compelling essay that takes the clich?s “the clothes don’t make the man,” “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” and “you only get one chance to make a first impression” to a new perspective. Lisa Hay, author of “Dominique,” recognizes a young girl’s struggle to create a life for herself by dressing and acting out different roles. By doing this, Dominique is living up to the clich?s that people— usually— try so hard to avoid.
The initial role Dominique introduces us to, is that of a stripper. “Dominique, in baby-blue spiked heels and lavender fabric wrapped around her like a ribbon, gets a two-handed hoist from another dancer.” It’s intriguing that her clothes are described with such detail. Dominique’s provocative dance move is almost nothing compared to her outfit. This is a powerful example of Dominique dressing the part in order to create a sense of identity and lifestyle for herself. She would hardly be a successful dancer if she were dressed in overalls.
However, this is a struggle for Dominique. She’s young, alone, and scared. Granted, you would hardly believe this about her after the description you were just provided, but again, “appearances can be deceiving.”
In paragraph five of the essay, the reader is introduced to a different Dominique. She has just returned to the club to announce that she has recently been married. However, this newly married Dominique, has an entirely different costume on. “Her makeup is lighter when she comes back. Her lipstick is frosted pink instead of blood red. She sits on her stool with a straight back.”
These contrasts between the old and new Dominique represent her inner struggle to fit the role in which she finds herself. A new mother would hardly find it proper to wear “blood” red lipstick or sit slouched over in her chair. There are expectations that go along with this new role, and Dominique strives to fulfill each one of those. For example, “Today she looks like a mom. Instead of spiked heels and a strip leotard, she’s dressed in a red sweater and black pants. Her shoes are low black pumps, and she’s wearing flesh-colored nylons.”
Still, I need to stress that Dominique is striving to fulfill these roles. Despite her commendable attempts to play the role of the wife and mother, her nylons are bunching at her heels and she continues to smoke. She has even changed the strength of her accent to represent that she has changed her ways and standard of living. Nonetheless, these attempts at a different lifestyle prove to be fruitless.
Dominique eventually ends up back in the same strip club, with the same sleazy outfits, the heavy accent, and the blood red lipstick. It’s as if she’s running around in circles between different lives. All the while, never knowing where she belongs or where she fits in.
The entire essay is a struggle for Dominique— an endless battle between truth, survival, and identity. Even up until she boards the plane for New York, she lies about her perspective careers, decides she needs to leave a man who is evidently beating her, and has trouble resisting the urge for six shots of Cuervo and then carries her stuffed polar bear in her arms onto the plane.
These contrasts between Teddy Bears and Cuervo Gold illustrate the inner turmoil of a young girl trying to decide what’s right, what’s wrong, where she belongs, and where she fits in. These contrasts assist in the development of a complex character and her many lifestyles. They allow the reader to be transported from one scene to the next with the knowledge that Dominique is making an effort to adapt to her new situations.
The contrasts illustrate the attempt of Dominique to adapt and make a place for herself. Unfortunately, the reader is never able to witness Dominique achieve a level of self-awareness. (Even though we can recognize an inner strength when she decides to leave her abusive husband.)
Collectively, the disparities developed throughout the essay create a character with several opposing personality traits. The differences in physical and behavioral patterns allow the reader to be introduced to the diverse aspects of Dominique’s life.