What is the significance of Leila's first ball in her life? Katerine Manfield's "Her First Ball"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Leila attends her first ball, she revels in the excitement of even insignificant things such as the tissue paper that holds the gloves of her cousin Laurie. Her romanticized perception of the fan-like lights and the happy couples who "seemed to float through the air" along with "little satin shoes [that]chased each other like birds" brings to Leila an ectasy that is only broken by the cynical words of the fat man who point out the ephemeral nature of beauty and youth.

This encounter of Leila with the older fat man is significant.  For, at this point, Leila could easily have become disillusioned with the joys of life and perceived them only as temporal and unworthy of remembrance.  However, Leila rejects the fat man's disappointment with the idealism of his youth, and she chooses instead the idea of carpe diem. She rebuffs his condescending remark, "You mustn't take me seriously, little lady" by replying, "As if I should!"  Thus, rather than becoming disillusioned and cynical herself, Leila rejects the fat man's words and chooses instead to live for the moment and enjoy your youth for what it is now. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial