What do you think of the very end of the story "Her First Ball"?

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At the end of “Her First Ball,” the protagonist, Leila, enjoys a wonderful dance with a curly-haired young man. Only a few minutes earlier, however, she had thought that her evening would be permanently spoiled because of one disagreeable incident. While enjoying the last dance, she finds herself confronting the fat, almost bald, old man “who had spoken harshly to her. Although this occurs by accident, as she smiles “radiantly” at him, she is briefly pleased that the man was disturbed. But in a split second, she puts that out of her head and refuses to let her evening be ruined.

The end presents a stark contrast to the beginning, when Leila is so thrilled about attending the fancy ball that she cannot imagine that anything could possibly go wrong there. More generally, she is unfamiliar with urban society, as Meg calls her “my little country cousin.” All is well until she dances with the old man, who seems to take pleasure in ruining her mood. As he goes on and on about growing old and fat, her light-hearted mood vanishes. Even though he tries to make a joke of it, saying “you mustn't take me seriously,” she has done just that. Leila finishes the evening gliding around a “beautiful flying wheel,” she will never again be as young or innocent as she was when she arrived.

Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on April 6, 2020
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