Clearly there are a number of quotes that you could look at, and in a sense, there are no "wasted words" in a novel, as everything is carefully chosen to establish character, themes and conflict; however, for me, one of the important elements in the first chapter of this great novel is how Kit very quickly discerns that she has entered a radically new world where her beliefs and values are very different and where, because of this, she is treated with suspicion bordering on contempt. This of course is one of the key conflicts in the book as Kit has to battle between her own identity and who she is and how she can express that (or not) in this new world that she has entered. We see this most clearly in the opening chapter when Kit dives off the boat to rescue the doll of Prudence Cruff. Note the reaction she receives when she says that she was taught to swim as a young child:
The others stared at her in suspicion. As though she had sprouted a tail and fins right before their eyes. What was the matter with these people? Not another word was uttered as the men pulled harder on their oars. A solid cloud of disapproval settled over the dripping girl, more chilling than the April breeze.
Kit's spirits plunge in the face of the series of "hostile faces" that stare at her as she realises that she is entering a very different world and she is not able to act and talk as she had been used to.
Kit is a very inspirational person whose character is greatly developed throughout the story.