Catherine Mansfield’s “Her First Ball” deals mainly with the transience of joy and happiness of human life. In the story, the protagonist is a young girl who with her cousins attends a ball, a large formal party with dancing. She danced with two of her partners and then an old, bald-headed man comes to dance with her. The man makes her aware of the fact that after several years she will find everything in the hall uninteresting and dull; that she will not feel an urge to dance. This casts a sombre shadow on her enjoyment and joy but it does not last long. Obviously, the story focuses on the dialectical conflict between youth and aging.
Throughout the story Leila, the protagonist, is extremely excited and ecstatically happy. On the way to the ball, she along with her cousins was in a cab. To Leila the ‘bolster’ appears to be like ‘the sleeve of an unknown young person’. Moreover, “lamp-posts and houses and fences and tress” all are, as it were, dancing while the cab begins moving forwards. The recurrent uses of the conjunction ‘and’ and the personifications surely suggest her excitement and joy. She continues ‘opening and shutting’ her fan while talking to her cousins. This restlessness also clearly shows that she is bubbling over with excitement on the way to the hall.
Leila feels far more excited after arriving at the place where the ball is supposed to be held. Everything is new and attractive to her. She finds the ladies’ room decorated so beautifully that it is ‘dancing’. And the ‘quivering coloured flags’ are like persons who are talking to each other very loudly. She is stunned by all these things. Leila did not want to attend the ball at first but now she forgets everything. The only thing she can remember is that everything is ‘heavenly’. Leila regards the floor as ‘golden’. What is more important is that she feels that if no partner comes to dance with her, she will almost die although someone at last came to dance with her....
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