Katherine Mansfield

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How does the author develop Ian French's character in "Feuille d'Album" by Katherine Mansfield?

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Ian French of the short story "Feuille d'Album" by Katherine Mansfield appears at first to be what the title indicates:  a person on a page of an album (feuille=page) since he is static in his routine and actions.  "What the poor boy really wants [meaning lacks] is thoroughly rousing," says woman comments.  So, she takes Ian to cafes, cabaret, dances, and high establishments where one drinks champagne.  But, whenever she goes to his studio, like all the others who precede here in trying to reach Ian, she rings, and rings, and rings without response:  "Hopeless."

Others attempt to reach this young man with "black close-cropeed hair, grey eyes with long lashes, and a mouth pouting as though it were ready to cry."  "Hopeless."  Ian follows the same pattern of living each day, writing himself memos each day and posting a sign by his bed that reads "GET UP AT ONCE."

It is not until the latter part of the story that the reader learns that Ian has not been a "feuille d'album" in his heart; only his body has repeated the picture that could belong in an album. For, his heart is in turmoil each evening as he watches a window opposite his house:

His heart fell out of the side window of his studio, and down to the balcony of the house opposite---buried itself in the pot of daffodils under the half-opened bud and spears of green....

While other women knock "hopelessly" on his studio door, Ian French is mesmerized by an open window through which a lovely girl in a dark pinafore and a pink handerchief moves:

It was quite simple.  She was the only person he really wanted to know, because whe was, he decided, the only other person alive who was just his age.  He couln't stand giggling girls, and he had no use for grown-up women....But how could he get to know her?

A personage with a single purpose, Ian French appears to be a static, or flat character; however, much has transpired in his mind and heart.  When the girl goes shopping one evening, he follows her.  As she hurries along on her errands, Ian thinks,

'Yest, she is always like that...We have nothing to do with --these people.

Believing that he has found a kindred spirit, Ian figuratively steps out of the album and enters the girls's "feuille d'album" as he stops her on her stairs,

Blushing more drimson than ever, but looking at her severely he said, almost angrily: 'Excuse me, Mademoiselle, you dropped this.

And he handed her an egg.

As the story concludes, the reader must surmise that she will guess that she has not really dropped the egg.  But, certainly, there is an ambiguity as to whether she will talk to him or encourage him.

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