Tag Archives: Carson McCullers

Now Promenade…(06/09)

Normally when someone thinks of prom, something like this comes to mind:

promdresses01c

Not the case in Carson McCullers 1940 book, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

The story’s main character, Mick Kelly, a tween as we would say these days, decides to throw a prom party. The rules of this party are to dress up in your best suit or dress and to fill out a prom card. ‘To prom’ with someone did not mean a dance, but a walk around the block , a promenade if you will.

This got me curious about proms as we know them today and when the tradition originated. Here is what I found from WIKI answers:

The word “prom” was first used in the 1890s as a shortened form of “promenade,” a reference to formal dances in which the guests would display their fashions and dancingĀ  skills during the evening’s grand march.

In the United States, it came to be believed by parents and educators that a prom, or formal dinner-dance, would be an important lesson in social skills, especially in a theoretically classless society that valued behavior over breeding. The prom was seen as a way to instill manners into children, all under the watchful eye of chaperons.

The first proms were held in the 1920s. By the 1930s, proms were common across the country. For many older Americans, the prom was a modest, home-grown affair in the school gymnasium, often decorated with crepe-paper streamers. Promgoers were well dressed but not lavishly decked out: boys wore jacket and tie and girls their Sunday dress. Couples danced to music provided by a local amateur band or a record player. After the 1960s, and especially after the 1980s, the high-school prom in many areas became a serious exercise in conspicuous consumption…

I can’t decide which prom tradition Mick follows more, but her party isn’t like any rom I ever went to.

1 Comment

Filed under life