Societies in Conflict
Class distinctions are prevalent in many societies. The disparity in values, traditions, and culture between the rich and the poor is evident through the lifestyles of each social group. If a person interacts with different societies, he or she can experience conflicting situations. In Katherine Mansfield’s “Her First Ball” and in Witi Ihimaera‘s “His First Ball,” the characters, each from different backgrounds, are placed in high society functions that conclude very differently. The characters take away different lessons based on their backgrounds, which reflect their authors’ own background. Using their own heritage and the current time period as a template for the short stories, the authors’ lives influenced the characters created in each story. Mansfield, who created the character Leila, was a wealthy English woman. Her perspective on people, such as the girls who help Leila at the ball, is shown through Leila’s interactions with others. The dream world that Leila enters displays the social structure of Mansfield’s time in Britain. In 1937, the date “Her First Ball” was written, a distinct class system was still prevalent in many areas of the world. Although Leila is a country girl, she is still privileged (Mansfield 103). Much like Mansfield’s interactions with the high class, Leila is an insider at the ball. On the other hand, contrary to Mansfield’s English heritage, the author of “His First Ball” is a native Maori of New Zealand. Ihimaera’s character, Tuta, is invited to a dance at the governor’s house (Ihimaera 108). Unlike the well-to-do Leila, Tuta is a factory worker that has had very little experience with the upper class (Ihimaera 109). “His First Ball” was published in 1978, in the midst of a massive human rights movement. The rigid class system was melting away and opportunities were arising for more and more people. Tuta endures the conflict of two different societies as he attempts to bridge the social gap by...
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