48 pages 1 hour read

Wendy Wasserstein

The Heidi Chronicles

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1988

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Important Quotes

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“This portrait can be perceived as a meditation on the brevity of youth, beauty, and life. But what can’t?”

(Act I, Prologue, Page 161)

In her lecture about women painters, Heidi refers to Lily Martin Spencer’s “We Both Must Fade” as a reminder of mortality and the transience of youth. Similarly, the play chronicles Heidi’s life, skipping years to cover two decades in an evening and highlighting how quickly life passes. Heidi realizes in her late 30s that she is lonely and unfulfilled, deciding to change her life by focusing on her own happiness and nurturing her own family and community. Her issue wasn’t the stereotypical biological clock, but her prior failure to recognize her essential human need for love, romantic or not.

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“Men don’t dance with desperate women.”

(Act I, Scene 1, Page 163)

Susan’s youthful advice at the dance arises out of her anxiety about being chosen by a boy in the moment, but it shapes the way both Heidi and Susan relate to men for the next two decades. Susan rarely mentions relationships, but when she visits from Hollywood, she glibly tells Heidi about the older married boyfriend with whom she recently ended her affair. Heidi allows Scoop to treat her dismissively, and every other relationship she mentions is so unimportant that it stays offstage. The premise of this statement is misogynistic, since it reinforces the notion that men are interested only in women whom they can treat like prey, which is demonstrated by the relationships depicted throughout the play.