Friday, March 12, 2010

The Red Badge of Courage

Every age has its own courageous gesture. The knight drew his sword. The gallant threw down his glove. The seigneur coolly took his pinch of snuff. There is a modern gesture to be added to the list... a purely feminine gesture. When a woman has lost her lover, when a girl has lost her job, when the doctor has told his fatal news, when the luck is leaving, the dinner party flopping, the birth pains beginning, the scandal breaking, the storm striking, the other woman sailing by in triumph... the sudden streak of lipstick across the lips spells courage. It is not done frivolously, but resolutely, desperately, defiantly, even gaily, with the dash and dignity of a courageous heart. Before the dim dressing-table of the night club, in the noncommittal mahogany mirror of the doctor's waiting room, in the hushed half light of the night nursey, in the smart, hard glitter of the descending elevator, proud fingers wield their weapon. The act reinforces the spirit. The streak of red steadies trembling lips. For one poignant moment, the little stick takes on the significance of a sword.
- Harpers Bazaar 1946

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