What does the dialogue reveal about Millicent’s character? Why does she feel a “sudden comradeship” with the man? Why do initiations no longer bother her?
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The dialogue reveals that Millicent is intrigued by people who are unique, people who view life differently. She breaks out in “spontaneous” laughter at his response, which indicates her appreciation for the unusual. She feels a comradeship with the strange man because he gives an off-beat answer, an answer that the reader recognizes as symbolic (the heather birds represent the beauty and freedom of individuality) and because she is beginning to understand her personal conflict. “So many people were shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them. And really, you didn’t have to belong to a club to feel related to other human beings.” By appreciating the odd man’s creative answer to a benign question, Millicent begins to let go of her inhibitions and is no longer afraid of how the public perceives her odd behavior, no longer being bothered by the initiation tasks.