Her First Ball

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Her First Ball – Katherine Mansfield

Characters:
Protagonist: Leila
Her first ball is based primarily on Leila, who is the protagonist of the story. In this story, we do not particularly know her appearance, but can form an image of her through the description of her personality. Leila is youth and idealism personified. She is simple; she tries to act mature in the story because she feels indifferent amongst her cousins and it is uncomfortable for her. “She tried not to smile too much; she tried not care.” While dancing, she is lost in the joy and anticipation - everything is streaming by her. Mansfield has also mentioned that Leila is only 18 years old: “‘Thirty years!’ cried Leila. Twelve years before she was born!” Leila is also holding a fan in her hand that she “gently” opened and shut. The reader also knows that she is feminine - she is soft-spoken as shown by the quote “said Leila softly”. Leila’s motivation is the excitement of her first ball. Her exhilaration, zeal and zest is shown though the fact that she is noticing very minute details. For example “But every single thing was so new and exciting… Meg’s tuberoses, Jose’s long loop of amber…” She is also very naïve and immature – it is shown through her inexperience. She is bursting with excitement over normal things – and her “fingers shook as she took one (program) out of the basket.” She is worried over not knowing whether or not “she was meant to have one too.” Leila is alos very moody. Her naïve and innocent personality is also shown through the event that took place before the ball –when things messed up and “she begged her mother to ring up her cousins to tell them that she couldn’t come after all.” Mansfield further goes on to show that when everything worked out, she was so extremely joyful that “it was hard to bear it alone.” Another reference to her innocence and naïve attitude is shown when she wants to cry over the fact that she is the only child and she doesn’t have a brother...
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