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How does the writer present youth memorably in "Her First Ball" by Katherine Mansfield?

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saryas15 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:08 PM via web

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How does the writer present youth memorably in "Her First Ball" by Katherine Mansfield?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM (Answer #1)

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There are specific subtopics within the theme of "youth", as the central theme of "Her First Ball" that are treated in a way that the reader can associate with the main character's emotions during her first "coming of age" event.

One of such subtopics is discovery. When you are young, you are on your way to find out what life has in store. Main character Leila's first ball is a great setting to deal with the topic of "discovery". We know that, as this is her first time out, she finds it impossible not to make a big deal out of every detail

She tried not to smile too much; 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.

Throughout the story we find similar instances such as this one. We also get descriptions which are befitting of a young lady's own words when describing something in her own words:

Darling little pink-and-silver programmes, with pink pencils and fluffy tassels.

It is in the newness and the impressive shock that Leila gets that we can see a vivid picture of how she reacted to everything that was surrounding her, such as the music, the programs, the pretty girls, and even the glitter of the candles in the ballroom.

After the incident with "the fat man", which represents the reality of life not being always "a ball". Leila returns to her original emotions and actually becomes more strongly attached to them:

in one turn, her feet glided, glided. The lights, the azaleas, the dresses, the pink faces, the velvet chairs, all became one beautiful flying wheel

After she becomes enraptured again in the moment, she completely forgets about the fatman and carries on.

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