Suddenly she paused and shuddered. She pictured herself in the school yard, a new target for Peggy and the girls. Peggy might ask where she got the dress she had on, and Maddie would have to say that it was one of Peggy's old ones that Maddie's mother had tried to disguise with new trimmings so that no one in Room 13 would recognize it.
In this passage, Maddie recognizes that to stand up for Wanda might mean exposing herself to ridicule. Maddie wrestles with her conflicting desires: to do the right thing and to remain a part of the popular set. This passage is significant because it illustrates how Maddie's identification with Wanda weighs on her mind in two ways: on one hand, Maddie knows it is unfair to stigmatize Wanda for her poverty, while on the other, Maddie fears becoming stigmatized herself.
At last Maddie sat up in bed and pressed her forehead tight in her hands and really thought. This was the hardest thinking she had ever done. After a long, long time she reached an important conclusion. She would never stand by and say nothing again.
In the lead up to this passage, Maddie is tormented that the Petronskis have moved away because of the prejudice they encountered in town. Maddie cannot reconcile with Wanda face-to-face, and so her only recourse is to decide that she will be a champion of the bullied and the socially outcast. Though a reconciliation with Wanda may be out of reach, Maddie has at least learned an important lesson about the importance of defending vulnerable people.
Yes, that was the way it had all begun, the game of the hundred dresses. It all happened so suddenly and unexpectedly, with everyone falling right in, that even if you felt uncomfortable as Maddie had there wasn't anything you could do about it.
This passage illustrates how the hundred dresses game gained momentum so quickly that Maddie felt powerless to stop it. The moment encapsulates the dangers of social consensus: having gone along with the group, Maddie sacrifices her individuality and betrays her own conscience. As a result, she suffers from extreme remorse.
Today, Monday, Wanda Petronski was not in her seat. But nobody, not even Peggy and Madeline, the girls who started all the fun, noticed her absence.
The book's opening lines establish the central conflict: Wanda is missing from school, likely because of bullying. That nobody, including Miss Mason, notices Wanda's absence is significant, as it illustrates how Wanda is socially isolated at school. This passage foreshadows the eventual news that Wanda's father has moved the family to the city—news the class meets with dismay, as Wanda's drawing talent has boosted her social status within the classroom.
All of a sudden, Wanda impulsively touched Peggy's arm and said something. Her light blue eyes were shining and she looked excited like the rest of the girls.
In this passage, Maddie is recollecting how Wanda, in her attempt to belong to the group of popular girls, made her grave error. Since the girls are talking about dresses, Wanda wants to join in, but a lack of awareness about the implicit social codes of the group lead her to tell Peggy she has one hundred dresses at home. Taken off guard by the implausible claim, Peggy reacts by distancing Wanda from the group through teasing.
Nobody in the room thought about Wanda at all except when it was her turn to stand up for oral reading. Then they all hoped she would hurry up and finish and sit down, because it took her forever to read a paragraph.
Before this passage, Maddie is comparing Peggy's social status in the classroom to Wanda's. While Peggy is popular and bright, Wanda can barely read aloud. The students grow impatient with Wanda, having no consideration for the conditions that have given rise to her reading difficulty. As the story progresses and more details about Wanda emerge, the reader deduces that Wanda's difficulty with reading results from the likelihood that English isn't spoken in her home. Her lack of a mother also means that Wanda must do more housework than most other children, leaving her less time to focus on schoolwork.
The colors in the dress were so vivid she had scarcely noticed the face and head of the drawing. But it looked like her, Maddie! It really did.
After studying the drawing Wanda has gifted to her, Maddie realizes that the figure wearing the dress is her. The dawning realization that Wanda had drawn Maddie helps Maddie reconcile some of her feelings of guilt over how she let Peggy bully Wanda. Despite their cruelty toward Wanda, Wanda had always liked and admired Peggy and Maddie.
...and she blinked away the tears that came every time she thought of Wanda standing alone in that sunny spot in the school yard close to the wall, looking stolidly over at the group of laughing girls after she had walked off, after she had said, "Sure, a hundred of them—all lined up..."
In the book's long final sentence, Maddie returns to the image of Wanda standing alone in the schoolyard. Knowing that Wanda had admired her and Peggy, Maddie reconsiders how Wanda's apparent stoicism in fact concealed her true desire to belong to the group. The image of Wanda looking over from the wall illustrates not only the impossibility of knowing what is going on in another person's mind and heart, but the importance of treating others as you would like to be treated yourself.
"The two girls reached their classroom after the doors had been closed. The children were reciting in unison the Gettysburg Address, for that was the way Miss Mason always began the session."
Peggy and Maddie are late to class because they had stood outside waiting for Wanda to arrive. It is ironic that they miss most of the Gettysburg Address, because their intention to treat Wanda as of lower social status contradicts one of the principal messages of the Address, which is that all people are created equal, and therefore deserve equal treatment.
"Wanda didn't have any friends. She came to school alone and went home alone. She always wore a faded blue dress that didn't hang right. It was clean, but it looked as though it had never been ironed properly."
This passage is significant because it foreshadows the eventual revelation that Wanda's mother is absent from her life. As a result, Wanda has to wash her own dress every night and hang it to dry. Because her family is too poor to afford an iron, or because her mother never taught her how to use one, Wanda's dress is always wrinkly. This information compounds Maddie's sympathy for Wanda.
The Hundred Dresses Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Hundred Dresses is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
One Hundred Dresses is an eyeopening story that also serves enhance character education goals. Bullying has become a prominent topic in schools, and One Hundred Dresses speaks to the feelings of those being bullied, parental coping (or not), and...
I'm not sure what you mean? Wanda's father moves them to the city from Boggins Heights. Other than that, the only thing I can think of is that Wanda stays in the back of her classroom, where the teacher has placed her.