The Hundred Dresses - I

Chapter Summary

“The Hundred Dresses” is a story by the author Eleanor Estes and this story is written from the experience gathered from real-life instances. This story deals with the mental toll, people have to face as a part of discrimination that is done to them due to their respective appearances, differences in caste and ethnicity. However, this not only affects the person but their way of living and envisioning the society. This story is about a girl named Wanda, the protagonist, who gets teased and humiliated every day by her classmates for her appearance and clothing. However, she claims to have a hundred dresses and sixty pairs of shoes which was not believed by any mates of the class. Although it is noticed that Wanda's claim was a contradiction, as she wears the same dress and similar pairs of shoes to the school. Classmates also make fun of her name was quite funny, as she is an immigrant from a Polish family to America. In the end, everybody believed about Wanda had a hundred dresses, which she submitted in the drawing contest.

About the Character Wanda Petronski

Where does Wanda sit in the classroom and why?

The protagonist named, Wanda Petronski, used to sit in the classroom at the benches that are placed in the corner most. She used to get lost in her thoughts as she was not welcomed heartily by her classmates and always felt alienated. The corner most benches were mainly occupied by the rough boys. The reason is that she was poor and shy and did want to interact with others.

Where does Wanda live?

In Boggins Heights,Boggins Heights, Wanda Petronski used to live; however, the area did not seem to have been inhabited by rich and wealthy people. This is because the area is not properly developed and is mostly covered with mud. No proper roads and streets are present there and it seemed kind of a slum area.

In what way was Wanda different from the other children?

The protagonist ‘Wanda Petronski was from a Polish family and an immigrant to America. She is different from her classmates as she was not an American and therefore her name seemed quite unusual to pronounce by the other students in the class. She used to wear the same dress and pair of shoes regularly, which made her different from the rest of the class. Another reason is also there, as, except Wanda, every student used to come to the school wearing better clothes.

Peggy and Maddie

Peggy and Maddie noticed Wanda’s absence

Wanda was absent for days in school and was not noticed by anyone in the class. However, her absence was felt by Peggy and Maddie when they waited for her in order to tease her, at the time when school got over.

Why Maddie was embarrassed by the questions Peggy?

Maddie was quite embarrassed while she listened to the question asked by Peggy Wanda, as she also belonged to the poor section and knows how it feels when someone humiliates her. Maddie wears dresses that are handed down by wealthy families. Although she is an American she can understand the mindset of Wanda and does not want her to get humiliated for her name or dress.

Why didn’t Maddie ask Peggie to stop teasing Wanda?

The reason Maddie did not ask Peggy to stop her teasing nature as Peggy is quite a popular girl in the school and everybody loved her. She is a good girl but has an exception for Wanda. Although, Maddie wants Peggy to stop her humiliating nature toward Wanda, but she could not as she is afraid that she can be the next in the line of target. Maddie was also afraid of notions of teasing and the taunting nature of Peggy.

Miss Mason’s impression on Wanda’s drawings

The beautiful drawings of Wanda made the class teacher, Miss Manson, quite impressed. She considered the drawings to be very beautiful and thought that those drawings are very worthy of winning the drawing contest individually. However, the children within the classroom also got quite excited and understood the worth of those sketches. They understood that Wanda has enhanced her skills in drawing and sketching. So when they got to know the results, they applauded and whistled.

The Dress Game

In the story “The Hundred Dresses”, the protagonist Wanda always felt bad about the dress game that used to happen in her school. As, she was poor and was from Polish, she was disliked by all for her unusual name and clothing. On a daily basis, Peggy used to tease Wanda for her clothing that she wears the same blue dress every day and also wears the same pair of clothes. This nature of humiliation every day lead Wanda to claim that she had one hundred dresses at her home lined up with a total number of sixty pairs of shoes. Wanda claimed this only to counter teasing behaviour of Peggy in the classroom. However, none of the students present within the class believe her of what is claimed by Wanda Petronski. Therefore, it is understood that what Wanda claimed is not true in reality.


Q1. Who was considered the winner of the drawing contest?

Ans. The winner of the drawing contest was Wanda Petronski. Wanda had beautifully sketched designs of hundreds of dresses with varied colour variations. Everyone in the class was quite impressed with her artwork.

Q2. What does Maddie think about Peggy would win the drawing contest?

Ans. According to Maddie, Peggy is to win the drawing contest and the reason is Peggy is believed to be a good artist than any of the students in the class. The other reason is that she is loved by all in the school. These reasons lead Maddie to believe that Peggy would win the contest as she had a good chance.

Q3. What is the meaning of the phrase –“to have fun with her”–in the story The Hundred Dresses?

Ans. In the text, The Hundred Dresses, the meaning of the phrase, to have fun with her refers to the tendency of humans, where people laugh at other people for their imperfections that are most visible through their appearances. This creates humiliation for a targeted person, like the protagonist Wanda Patronski in the text.

Updated on: 06-Jan-2023


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