Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
I am sixteen years old now and I don't know what to do and would appreciate it if you could tell me what to do. When I was a little girl it was not so bad because I got used to the kids on the block makeing fun of me, but now I would like to have boy friends like the other girls and go out on Saturday nites, but no boy will take me because I was born without a nose -- although I am a good dancer and have a nice shape and my father buys me pretty clothes.
I sit and look at myself all day and cry. I have a big hole in the middle of my face that scares people even myself so I cant blame the boys for not wanting to take me out. My mother loves me, but she crys terrible when she looks at me.
What did I do to deserve such a terrible bad fate? Even if I did do some bad things I didn't do any before I was a year old and I was born this way. I asked Papa and he says he doesnt know, but that maybe I did something in the other world before I was born or that maybe I was being punished for his sins. I dont believe that because he is a very nice man. Ought I commit suicide?
Sincerely yours,From Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West, pp. 14-15. Copyright (c) 1962 by New Directions. Reprinted by permission of New Directions, Publishers. The book I was reading which reprinted it was Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity by Erving Goffman.