The Loss of Childhood Innocence in Short Stories
The short stories, “Her First Ball” by Katherine Mansfield and “The Infant Prodigy” by Thomas Mann, share different scenarios in which children have similar experiences. “Her First Ball” describes the unique experience of a young girl going to her first ball. “The Infant Prodigy” depicts a young boy whose amazing piano talents are exploited by his mother and the impresario. Each story explores the coming of age of children before they are necessarily ready. While both “The Infant Prodigy” and “Her First Ball” share the common theme of loss of childhood innocence, “The Infant Prodigy” explores its theme through many points of views and character description while “Her First Ball” makes use of one point of view and vast imagery of the setting to advance the theme. In “Her First Ball” Mansfield uses the experience of a young eighteen year old girl going to her first dance to explore the theme of a child losing their innocence. The story opens with a girl named Leila riding in a cab with her cousins on the way to the ball. Leila’s innocence is first seen when the reader is informed that she is from the country and has never been to a ball. It continues to show when she arrives at the ball and is stunned by the amount of people and all of the decorations. Leila becomes quite anxious as the music starts to play for her first dance, and her innocence is further revealed when she is asked to dance. She is described as “floating away like a flower that is tossed into a pool” (Mansfield 19). Her innocence is revealed by her fragile nature. However, when she is guided onto the dance floor, her innocence is shattered by an older man that brings her innocence into reality. He tells her to enjoy the moment because it won’t be long before she is just a parent sitting on stage gazing down at her daughter in jealousy wishing to be young again. Leila becomes overwhelmed with worry that the man might be right; she feels that her...
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