How does Miss Brill seem to handle her emotions? Where do we see this in the story?

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Katherine Mansfield leaves the reader with the impression that Miss Brill is not accustomed to sharing her emotions with others. She is aware of her solitary status, but she usually sets that aside and enjoys feeling at one with the world. On her regular Sunday park outings, she feels that...

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Katherine Mansfield leaves the reader with the impression that Miss Brill is not accustomed to sharing her emotions with others. She is aware of her solitary status, but she usually sets that aside and enjoys feeling at one with the world. On her regular Sunday park outings, she feels that she is “part of the performance” and imagines that people would miss her if she did not appear—disregarding the fact that she does not speak with them.

One way to read the story would be to think that she is in denial for not realizing that solitude connotes loneliness. When the young man is rude to her, she is harshly confronted with reality. A different analysis, however, would interpret her as continuing to be self-sufficient but just a bit more reflexive. In the end, she sits “for a long time” lost in her own feelings, but instead of telling the reader exactly what those feelings are, the author shows her as imagining the dead fox crying.

The imprecision in her emotional state is conveyed by her observations in the park:

[W]hen she breathed, something light and sad—no, not sad, exactly—something gentle seemed to move in her bosom.

The ambiguity of her emotions is also communicated by the use of the third-person narrator. This narrator conveys Miss Brill’s thoughts but does not speak for her. For example, in observing how Miss Brill thinks about her detachment, the narrator mentions that she considers it something she is good at, or a positive feature:

She had become really quite expert, she thought ... at sitting in other people's lives just for a minute while they talked round her.

This observation that she temporarily sits in other people’s lives can also be contrasted to her more general state, in which she sits alone in her room.

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