Discuss and analyse some examples of language used in the story "Her First Ball," by Katherine Mansfield, to create a mood of excitement.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Katherine Mansfield's poem entitled, "Her First Ball," the author uses the language of the story in several way. In particular, the words she chooses add a sense of excitement to the story.

The first example describes Leila's trip in the carriage. The bolster (or cushion) feels like the sleeve of an unknown escort; that sense, along with the way the carriage "bowls" its occupants along, excite Leila as she approaches her first ball.

She sat back in her own little corner of it, and the bolster on which her hand rested felt like the sleeve of an unknown young man's dress suit; and away they bowled...

It is easy to sense Leila's excitement as she tries to contain her eagerness, but notices the smallest details of the evening (the roses, the white fur...), sure she will never forget them. The reader may also be swept into a place in the memory where an evening was eagerly anticipated and equally memorable:

...she tried not to care. But every single thing was so new and exciting ...Meg's tuberoses, Jose's long loop of amber, Laura's little dark head, pushing above her white fur like a flower through snow. She would remember for ever.

Besides the excitement portrayed in Leila's character, inanimate objects (the gaslight, the tuning of the instruments) become harbingers of a joyful night, personified to react as a person might to this evening of possibilities—the gas light is already "dancing," and with the sound of the instruments, it jumps almost to the ceiling:

A great quivering jet of gas lighted the ladies' room. It couldn't wait; it was dancing already. When the door opened again and there came a burst of tuning from the drill hall, it leaped almost to the ceiling.

In the dancing hall, personification is used to convey excitement in the flags that hang across the room's ceiling:

Leila...looking over Meg's shoulder, felt that even the little quivering coloured flags strung across the ceiling were talking.

Once last example is found in the following passage—Leila realizes that something has changed in her: the experience is thrilling. Leila feels as if her life has just started. And where the evening had once seemed "mournful" and "solemn," it is now a beautiful thing, and shall never dampen her spirits again:

For it was thrilling. Her first ball! She was only at the beginning of everything. It seemed to her that she had never known what the night was like before. Up till now it had been dark, silent, beautiful very often--oh yes--but mournful somehow. Solemn. And now it would never be like that again--it had opened dazzling bright.

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