Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Hundred Dresses by ELEANOR ESTES - Summary, Q&A Solved and Explained

Summary of the Story 

Wanda Petronski, an immigrant girl in an American school, becomes the target of taunts for her worn dress and unusual name. Peggy, the popular girl, leads the teasing, while Maddie observes, torn between loyalty and empathy. Wanda escapes the cruelty by inventing a world of hundreds of colorful dresses at home, drawing them on the board with vibrant detail.

Suddenly, Wanda disappears from school. Maddie and Peggy are struck by guilt, realizing their behavior. The classroom, once filled with Wanda's fantastical creations, feels heavy with their regret. The discovery of a drawing contest entry – a beautiful dress labeled "For Wanda" – leaves them grappling with the consequences of their actions.

The Hundred Dresses is a poignant tale of childhood cruelty, imagination, and the lasting impact of unkindness. Through Maddie's awakening, the story reminds us of the importance of courage, standing up for others, and celebrating differences.

Click Here to Go to Part 2

Oral Comprehension Check (Part 1) 

1. Where in the classroom does Wanda sit and why?
Wanda sits in the back of the classroom, near the window. This placement is partly due to assigned seating, but it also reflects her social isolation. By choosing the back, she is possibly trying to shield herself from potential teasing.

2. Where does Wanda live? What kind of a place do you think it is?
She lives with her father and older brother in a section of town known as "Bogtown.". It suggests a working-class area, possibly with rundown houses and limited resources. Wanda's worn dress and lack of other clothing options imply financial hardship and simpler living conditions compared to her classmates.

3. When and why do Peggy and Maddie notice Wanda’s absence?
Peggy and Maddie first notice Wanda's absence during art class. They wanted to make fun of her as the art contest was related to 'dresses' and they made fun of Wanda about her dress.

4. What do you think “to have fun with her” means?
The phrase "to have fun with her" refers to Peggy and the other girls' teasing of Wanda. They derive amusement from her claims of having hundreds of dresses, exploiting her vulnerabilities and difference for their own entertainment. 

5. In what way was Wanda different from the other children?

A. Wanda was an immigrant girl with a Polish last name and worn clothes, making her stand out amidst her American classmates.

6. Did Wanda have a hundred dresses? Why do you think she said she did?

A. Wanda likely didn't have a hundred dresses. She invented them as an escape from teasing and to create a world where she fit in.

7. Why is Maddie embarrassed by the questions Peggy asks Wanda? Is she also like Wanda, or is she different?

A. Maddie is embarrassed because Peggy's questions expose Wanda's vulnerability and make her feel complicit in the teasing. Maddie is different from Wanda in being more social and accepted, but she grapples with guilt and empathy. 

8. Why didn’t Maddie ask Peggie to stop teasing Wanda? What was she afraid of?

A. Maddie didn't stand up to Peggie's teasing out of fear and peer pressure. She likely feared becoming the next target if she defended Wanda, jeopardizing her own social standing within the group.

9. Who did Maddie think would win the drawing contest? Why?

A. Maddie initially assumed Peggy would win the drawing contest. Peggy was popular and known for her artistic talent, making her the likely frontrunner in Maddie's eyes.

10. Who won the drawing contest? What had the winner drawn?

A. Wanda won the drawing contest with a beautiful dress labeled "For Wanda." This unexpected victory reveals the impact of her imaginary wardrobe and underscores the classmates' missed opportunity to appreciate her creativity and kindness. 

Think About the Text (Part 1)

Q.1 How is Wanda seen as different by the other girls? How do they treat her?

A.1 The other girls see Wanda as foreign and poor based on her worn clothes, unfamiliar name, and quiet demeanor. They tease and exclude her, calling her names and laughing at her claims of having hundreds of dresses.

Q.2 How does Wanda feel about the dresses game? Why does she say that she has a hundred dresses?

A.2 Wanda initially enjoys the dresses game as it offers an escape from reality and allows her to express her creativity and imagination. However, it later becomes a painful reminder of her isolation and the bullying she faces. She says she has a hundred dresses as a defense mechanism, a way to fit in and gain some respect.

Q.3 Why does Maddie stand by and not do anything? How is she different from Peggy? (Was Peggy’s friendship important to Maddie? Why? Which lines in the text tell you this?)

A.3 Maddie stands by because of fear and peer pressure. She doesn't want to become Peggy's next target and jeopardize her own social standing. While not actively cruel like Peggy, Maddie still lacks the courage to stand up for what's right, highlighting the bystander effect. Lines suggesting Peggy's importance to Maddie include references to their shared secrets and Maddie's fear of losing Peggy's approval.

Q.4 What does Miss Mason think of Wanda’s drawings? What do the children think of them? How do you know?

A.4 Miss Mason appreciates Wanda's artistic talent and imagination, finding beauty and detail in her dress drawings. She even uses Wanda's work as inspiration for the drawing contest. The children, influenced by Peggy, initially mock Wanda's fantastical creations, but their silence and surprise after discovering Wanda's winning entry hints at a shift in their perception. 

Part 2

Oral Comprehension (Part 2)

1. What did Mr Petronski’s letter say? 

Mr. Petronski's letter informs Miss Mason that Wanda and Jake are moving away due to the bullying they faced. It emphasizes the hurtful impact of the teasing by stating "no more holler 'Pollack'" and suggests Wanda might find acceptance in a more diverse environment.

2. Is Miss Mason angry with the class, or is she unhappy and upset? 

Miss Mason isn't explicitly angry with the class, but her reaction shows deep sadness and disappointment. She reads the letter several times, adjusts her glasses deliberately, and speaks in a low, serious tone, indicating the gravity of the situation and her understanding of the hurt caused.

3. How does Maddie feel after listening to the note from Wanda’s father? 

Maddie feels a "sick feeling" in her stomach after listening to the letter. She recognizes her own complicity in the bullying even though she didn't actively participate, acknowledging "she had stood by silently, and that was just as bad as what Peggy had done. Worse."

4. What does Maddie want to do? 

Maddie is driven by a desire to make amends and connect with Wanda before she leaves. She feels a strong urge to apologize, explain how Wanda's talent is appreciated, and assure her that moving away isn't necessary. 

5. What excuses does Peggy think up for her behaviour? Why?

Peggy thought up excuses for her behaviour because she was feeling bad about what had happened, thinking that it probably was her teasing because of which Wanda left the school. She never called Wanda a foreigner or made fun of her name. She also said that she never thought Wanda had even the sense to know that they were making fun of her. She thought Wanda was too dumb.

6. What are Maddie’s thoughts as they go to Boggins Heights? 

Maddie was ashamed of herself and felt apologetic for being a silent spectator while Peggy humiliated Wanda. She was upset and distraught for Wanda and herself. She hoped to find Wanda and tell her that they were sorry they had picked on her and how wonderful the whole school thought she was. She also thought of fighting anyone who will not be nice to her.

7. Why does Wanda’s house remind Maddie of Wanda’s blue dress?

Wanda’s house was sparse, old and shabby but neat and clean, like the blue dress that she wore every day to school, which was also old and faded, but clean. This reminded Maddie of Wanda’s old blue dress.

8. What does Maddie think hard about? What important decision does she come to?

Maddie thought hard about how she could make amends for all that had happened. She decided to go to Wanda’s house with Peggy to apologize and amend for all that had happened but Wanda had moved to a different city with her family. She felt bad because she thought of herself as a coward who did not stop Peggy to insult Wanda. So, she decided to raise voice against injustice and bullying. She was firm of not being a mute spectator anymore.

9. What did the girls write to Wanda? 

The girls wrote a friendly letter telling Wanda about the drawing contest and informing her that she had won. They complimented her beautiful drawings and even asked about her new life and teacher. However, the letter lacked a proper apology for their earlier behavior.

10. Did they get a reply? Who was more anxious for a reply, Peggy or Maddie? How do you know? 

The girls did receive a reply from Wanda! Her letter expressed gratitude for the drawings and wished them a happy Christmas. We can infer that Peggy was more anxious for a reply as she was the one who initiated the idea of contacting Wanda and was very excited upon finding Wanda's house.

11. How did the girls know that Wanda liked them even though they had teased her? 

The girls know Wanda liked them because she sent them each a drawing as a gift and wished them a happy Christmas and sent greetings to "Room Thirteen." without mentioning any negative thing in her letter.

Thinking About the Text (Part 2)

1. Why do you think Wanda’s family moved to a different city? Do you think life there was going to be different for their family?

Mr. Petronski's letter explicitly states they're moving due to hurtful taunts about Wanda's name and background. The city offers the hope of escaping prejudice and finding a more diverse and accepting environment where Wanda won't be singled out.

2. Maddie thought her silence was as bad as Peggy’s teasing. Was she right?

I think she was right. Both actions contributed to Wanda's hurt, though in different ways. Maddie's inaction made her complicit, highlighting the bystander effect's negative impact.

3. Peggy says, “I never thought she had the sense to know we were making fun of her anyway. I thought she was too dumb. And gee, look how she can draw!” What led Peggy to believe that Wanda was dumb? Did she change her opinion later?

Peggy's judgment of Wanda's intelligence stems from prejudice and a lack of understanding. Her appreciation for Wanda's talent clashes with her dismissive assumption, revealing an internal conflict. I think Peggy changes her mind, after receiving Wanda's gift and learning about her kindness that offered her a chance for reflection.

4. What important decision did Maddie make? Why did she have to think hard to do so?

Maddie decided to never again stand by silently in the face of bullying. This choice required considerable courage, as it might mean facing social pressures or even losing friends. It signifies her personal growth and commitment to speaking up for what's right.

5. Why do you think Wanda gave Maddie and Peggy the drawings of the dresses? Why are they surprised?

Wanda's drawings, representing her talent and imagination, symbolize forgiveness and generosity. They surprise the girls because they didn't expect such kindness after their behavior. It's a reminder that judging others unfairly can lead to misinterpretations.

6. Do you think Wanda really thought the girls were teasing her? Why or Why not? 

Wanda definitely understood the teasing because Wanda and her sister complained about it to their father and in turn the family decided to move to a bigger city. But her letter's warmth suggests she might have wanted to move forward and focus on the positive aspects of their connection.

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