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In "Her First Ball," in which ways does Mansfield portray Leilas thoughts ?

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ayredlaro | eNoter

Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:53 AM via web

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In "Her First Ball," in which ways does Mansfield portray Leilas thoughts ?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:07 AM (Answer #1)

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Mansfield reveals Leila's thoughts through narrator commentary, indirect speech, free indirect speech, and sensory and psychological reactions. She opens the narrative with narrator commentary in which she exposes Leila's thoughts as one who is privy to Leila's every thought: "Exactly when the ball began Leila would have found it hard to say."

Indirect speech is a technique in which a characters words are stated by the narrator without benefit of direct quotation: "That was the great difference between dancing with girls and men, Leila decided."

Free indirect speech, a technique Jane Austen excels in, takes indirect speech one step further and gives the characters thoughts as though one were directly listening in to the character's thoughts:

Why didn't the men begin? What were they waiting for? There they stood, smoothing their gloves, patting their glossy hair and smiling among themselves.

Finally, Mansfield reveals Leila's thoughts through recounting her sensory and psychological reactions:

  • Leila ... felt that even the little quivering coloured flags strung across the ceiling were talking.
  • The azaleas were separate flowers no longer; they were pink and white flags streaming by.
  • She quite forgot to be shy ....

One modernist technique Mansfield does not use is stream of consciousness. While this term may be loosely used by some to cover other techniques that reveal a character's inner thoughts, like free indirect speech, for example, the definitive elements of fragmentation and randomness that mark stream of consciousness are missing from Mansfield's techniques in "Her First Ball."

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