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What is a character sketch of the fat man in "Her First Ball"?

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user9265638 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:54 PM via web

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What is a character sketch of the fat man in "Her First Ball"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:03 PM (Answer #1)

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In contrast to the imaginative delights of Leila on the night of her first formal ball as she "floats away like a flower that is tossed into a pool" is the sudden interruption of the old fat man, who disrupts the magic of the evening with his world-worn comments:

"Kind little lady....you can't hope to last anything like as long as that.....long before that you'll be sitting up there on the stage, looking on, in your nice black velvet....And you heart will ache, ache...because no one wants to kiss you now."

Because of this interruption of the fat man, Leila becomes aware of age and mortality as his words "sounded terribly true." Certainly, the old fat man, who represents the temporal nature of life, mitigates her youthful enjoyment of the moment. Nonetheless, Leila chooses to ignore the truth of life for the delights of the evening.  For, rather than envisioning the end as the old man describes, Leila seizes the moment instead as "the beginning of everything," ignoring him and simply reveling in her youthful grace and beauty, an act that is signified by her smiling "radiantly" when she and her partner bump into the fat man.

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