The Jump-at-the-Sight-of-a-Mouse Era – Alice, Grade 7

The Jump-at-the-Sight-of-a-Mouse Era

Stop denying it. Everyone regardless of gender has screamed at one point in their lives. “The Dinner Party” by Mona Gardner proves that women have grown out of the the-jump-at-the-sight-of-a-mouse era. The story is about a party in India in which a girl and a colonel argue about the reaction of women in a crisis. The hostess proves the little girl right when she reacts calmly and wisely to a snake crawling on her foot. Mona Gardner aims to break the gender stereotype about women by showing that women can not only remain calm but also act wisely in any crisis.  

By remaining calm in a crisis, the hostess breaks the stereotype and proves that women can remain calm and act bravely in any crisis. Although it is human nature to feel nervous in distress, people, including women, still have the potential to remain calm. In the story, the hostess realizes that a cobra is crawling over her foot. Under similar circumstances, some people would be seized by a fit of hysteria and resort to screaming. However, instead of witnessing a fit of hysteria, the American only “sees a strange expression come over the face of the hostess” as “[s]he is staring straight ahead, her muscles contracting slightly” (Gardner 1). Such a reaction from a lady who is feeling a cobra crawling over her foot proves that women are capable of remaining calm in times of crisis. 

 The hostess also acts wisely and makes a smart decision, showing that women are just as brave as men if not braver. When the hostess first realizes that a cobra is crawling over her foot, she does not alarm anyone. This is a wise act because if she told the guests, they would be terrified and react hysterically, causing the Cobra to attack them. Instead, she thinks of a smart idea and “summons the native boy standing behind her chair and whispers to him” to “place a bowl of milk on the veranda just outside the open doors” (Gardner 1). The hostess’s quick and wise decision shows that women can act wisely in a crisis. 

The dinner party proves in many ways that women can remain calm and act wisely in times of crisis. Mona Gardner aims to break the gender stereotype about women by showing that women have outgrown the jump-at-the-sight-of-a-mouse era. Or maybe, the jump-at-the-sight-of-a-mouse era was itself a mythical era and never existed.