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Examine what the old man said to Leila in "Her First Ball."

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awannn | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM via web

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Examine what the old man said to Leila in "Her First Ball."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 6, 2013 at 12:12 PM (Answer #1)

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The old man's words strike at the reality that faces all human beings.  Given all the pomp and production, all the stress regarding how one looks, and all the attention given to how one appears to other people, the fat man's words cut through all of this.  The fat man's words speak to how the ravages of time will wither anyone and everyone.  At a point, he says that Leila's beauty and her demeanor will diminish.  Statements such as "You can't hope to last anything like as long as that," "And these pretty arms will have turned into little short fat ones," and "you'll smile away like the poor old dears up there," all reflect the condition of age that the young Leila will endure over time. Essentially, the old man suggests that father time is undefeated and all must succumb to he and his power.  

The sentiments are conveyed with an acidic tongue, given how he is directing his comments towards Leila, and, perhaps, women in general.  In what he said to Leila, the fat, old man seeks to convey a reality that awaits many women.  It is a statement that Leila herself hears for a moment and then is taken in with her feet that "glided," as "the lights, the azaleas, the dresses, the pink faces, the velvet chairs, all became one beautiful flying wheel."

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