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Her First Ball Written by Katherine Mansfield

Autor:   •  May 15, 2019  •  Essay  •  819 Words (4 Pages)  •  32 Views

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Analytical Essay - Her first ball

Have you ever wondered what it was like to attend a ball in the older days? In the short story “Her first ball” written by Katherine Mansfield and published in 1921, an unnamed third person narrator takes us through the experience of the protagonist Leila’s first time attending a ball. Throughout the story the reader is closely connected to the protagonist’s feelings and acts as the ball develops.

The first theme of the short story is experience, or rather the lack of it. All the way from the beginning of the text, the reader senses Leila’s inexperience with balls. The protagonist has been living on the countryside, with the nearest neighbor being 15 miles away. She’s never attended a ball and has a hard time figuring out how to act throughout the event. This can already be seen when Leila and her cousins arrive at the drill hall. "Hold on to me, Leila; you'll get lost," (p. 1 l. 27). The fact that she’s never attended a ball makes her reliant on her cousins showing her where to go when they arrive. Furthermore, the author seems to be exploring the theme of experience, or the lack of it, in the ladies’ room before the dance. Mansfield tells the reader how Leila wants to ask somebody whether she is supposed to take a programme or not. "Am I meant to have one too?" (p. 2 l. 21).

Another theme of the story is gender roles. Mansfield is exploring the theme of gender roles, which is most certainly connected with how the gender roles where divided at the time the text was written. When the dance starts, the reader gets an insight in how the men are the ones picking which girls they are going to dance with. This is done by the programmes, which were delegated in the ladies’ room. The modern world would look at this as sexist to pick out women to dance with by writing their name up on a time schedule, and thereby “reserve” a girl for a certain dance. This is probably what Mansfield is trying to tell the reader, how the men were the dominant gender at the time, and how social events like the ball was governed by the lack of equality. Another thing to notice is when the protagonist is having a conversation with the elderly man described as fat. The text explains

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