The “Difficult Girl” Story by Lena Dunham


The life of a child is far from always joyful and carefree, even in the modern world with a lot of opportunities. Lena Dunham in her story Difficult Girl: Growing Up with Help, shows the reverse side of the coin, using rhetorical devices and a special style of narration. It is necessary to analyze what exactly the author uses in order to position the reader and show her ideas as vividly as possible.

Lena Dunham’s Story Difficult Girl

First of all, it is necessary to note the context in which the article Difficult Girl: Growing Up with Help was created. Lena Dunham has many health issues in real life and also has a somewhat unique worldview. This is reflected in the character and thoughts of the main character, whose fate is largely intertwined with the author. At the same time, there is no explicit mention of the fact that Dunham projects himself onto a girl in the story. However, the text uses numerous “I”, which just shows from the translation of one’s own ideas and positions. At the same time, some sentences show the exact confidence and understanding of the young heroine of what is happening. This is expressed in sentences such as “It’s hard enough to have a child, especially a child who demands to check our products.” (Dunham 28). It is logical that a little girl cannot form such thoughts in her head on her own, because they require experience and an outside perspective.

Interestingly, it is impossible to unequivocally characterize the audience to which this work is directed. The only thing that can be said for sure is that it is not for children. This is explained by the fact that most of the thoughts, situations and epithets are too gloomy for little readers. One clear example of this nature of the story is the sentence “I have only the most vague recollection of a life before fear” (Dunham 31). Such thoughts set a pessimistic tone of hopelessness, despite the fact that throughout the story the heroine mentions that not everything is as bad as it seems to her. Thus, the audience of the story is vast, but above all it is directed at such people who can find themselves in negative thoughts. I conceive, in a difficult period of life or with the arrival of bad news, individuals experience, prepare for the worst. In such situations, support and a sense of solidarity with other people who find themselves in a similar situation are needed.

It is important to note that due to the style of presentation and the chosen epithets, the author inspires confidence in herself and her experience, and short sentences are the most effective tool for this. Their meaning lies in the fact that the heroine is absolutely sure of certain thoughts or guesses, and therefore has no doubts. Even in difficult situations, where many people would be in disarray, the heroine briefly states: “He had to say something” (Dunham 85). In addition, Dunham accurately conveys the unconditional confidence in the diagnoses made to the heroine and who is right and who is wrong. Because of this, the reader finds himself in a situation in which it is even impossible to argue, because it creates a feeling of irrefutability of any conclusions.

In addition to how firm and determined the heroine is in almost every aspect, there is a lot of evidence in the story. Such elements are designed not only to confirm the thoughts of a little girl, but to demonstrate her undeniable rightness. For example, the heroine muses, “I have a feeling that she will gather all the information from this, so I put on a show that I am sure will demonstrate my loneliness and introspection” (Dunham 96). After a few sentences, her guesses are proven: “From this answer, she learns that I am not like other nine-year-olds” (Dunham 106). This style persists throughout the work, and the reader stops doubting or trying to hope for the opposite of what the heroine thinks.

When this understanding comes, Dunham reinforces the final stage of the story, namely, putting pressure on the reader. At the same time, it does not force people to experience sharp feelings, but rather creates their totality. This is explained by the fact that there is a spirit of inevitability and helplessness, but at the same time there is still hope for the best. This happens thanks to the skillful manipulation of mood. First, “I bring my disposable camera and take pictures of us hanging out and painting like pals do” (Dunham 175). It seems that everything is happening as it should be for ordinary children, fun and easy. However, the scene ends with the sentence “Turn away from me so that I don’t think about sex” (Dunham 184). Thus, emotional swings occur that make the reader be in permanent confusion. At the same time, the author’s goal is to show the idea that sadness, unusualness and pessimism are completely multifaceted, which exacerbates the situation.


Based on the foregoing, Dunham shows the most acute relevance of the issue for society. Surrounding people often treat things too simply, not noticing their peculiarities and subtleties of worldview. In order to prevent this from happening, it is necessary to pay special attention to the words and thoughts of children, but not to ignore them. In addition, it is important for the reader to understand that life is not easy and often pessimistic, regardless of age, but in any case, there are reasons not to give up.

Work Cited

Dunham, Lena. “Difficult Girl: Growing Up, with Help”. The New Yorker, 2014. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023, April 18). The "Difficult Girl" Story by Lena Dunham. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2023, April 18). The "Difficult Girl" Story by Lena Dunham.

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"The "Difficult Girl" Story by Lena Dunham." PsychologyWriting, 18 Apr. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'The "Difficult Girl" Story by Lena Dunham'. 18 April.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "The "Difficult Girl" Story by Lena Dunham." April 18, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "The "Difficult Girl" Story by Lena Dunham." April 18, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "The "Difficult Girl" Story by Lena Dunham." April 18, 2023.