Her First Ball by Katherine Maxfield

Topics: Katherine Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, Anton Chekhov Pages: 4 (1205 words) Published: October 29, 2012
Her First Ball is a 1921 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in The Sphere on 28 November 1921, and later reprinted in The Garden Party and Other Stories. Plot summary

A young girl called Leila has come to the city to stay with her cousins, the Sheridan’s (who also appear in "The Garden Party.") As the story opens, they are going to a ball (A formal gathering for social dancing). Leila is very excited: this is her first ball. Once there, she is both excited and terrified. After dancing with several young men, she dances with an old balding (without hear) man who has been coming to balls for 30 years. He tells her that she will eventually grow old and only watch the dances, regretting her lost youth and beauty. For a moment, the magic of the occasion is spoilt (ruin). Then another young man asks Leila to dance, and her worries disappear.

Major themes

Loss of innocence


Appearance vs. reality




The main themes of the story 'Her First Ball are very dramatically portrayed throughout the story. The story conveys the idea of a girl's first experience of a ball. The exposition of Leila illustrated that there was a novelty to everything surrounding the event. She reveled the excitement of even insignificant things. Leila’s longing to attend the ball was obvious through her description. She was impressionable and felt that everything around her was magical.

The story also relates the idea of temporary of absolute happiness and the brevity of the youth. The old man served as the reminder that best never lasts long. Even in Leila's dreamy environment, there was a reality check when the old man claimed that Leila would soon grow old too. The realization of pangs of growing up, as mentioned by the old man, dampened Leila’s enthusiasm greatly.

Another major theme of this story is the resilience of youth (The condition or quality of being young.). Even though Leila was disheartened by the...
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