The Ways in Which Mansfield Presents Leila’s Thoughts and Feelings About the Ball:
Mansfield describes a young lady first introduction to society. She describes the young girl’s emotions and excitement in a way that submerges the readers in Leila’s fantasy world, with a lot of different feelings and emotions. Mansfield wrote this story with third omniscient person.
This gives the reader the opportunity to see and know Leila’s feelings, thoughts, the atmosphere, etc. Mansfield illustrated a colourful, rich fairy tale as Leila’s world. The reader can sense how Leila’s perception of the balls seems a dreamlike event.
The story begins with a description of Leila’s feelings as it was her first ball. She feels mostly joy and excited. She feels mostly joy and excited, because for her “Every single thing was so new and exciting”. Even though the ball has nearly started she was sure “She would remember (the ball) for ever”. Her desire and impatience to dance is felt when she is in the cab passing by “waltzing lamp-posts and houses and fences, and trees”. It creates a mental image of the cab dancing a waltz with the trees, houses, and fences throughout their journey to the ball.
This shows how Leila is wondering how the ball is going to be, and how she looks forward to it. Mansfield creation of a dream world is revealed in Leila’s views of everything. It gives the impression that she look at everything with wide eyes and astonishment. This can be seen in the simple common details, such as “Meg’s tuberoses, Jose’s long loop of amber, Laura’s little dark head”. Everything is seen by her as most charming and extraordinary. Yet as she gets to the ball, she becomes extremely nervous but still excited, since she has never experienced anything like this.
The reader knows it is her first ball, not just because of the title, also because of the question of the e Sheridan girls “Have you really never been to a ball before, Leila? ” Leila’s response is not straight forward, but an excuse, which she said it “softly, opening and shutting her fan”. The fact that the action is written in present continuous shows that the action is happening at that moment and that it is continuous. We can imagine how she is opening, and shutting her fan, continuously, which shows her nervousness.
Apparently, Leila’s heart is beating fast, this is specially evoke when “she tried not to smile too much; she tried not to care”. There was something that promotes this emotion and the reader can locate it at the part where Leila wonders of thoughts about the ball through completely unrelated objects, such as “the bolster on which her hand rested (which) felt like the sleeve of an unknown young man’s dress”. This shows her nervous feeling and how she looks forward to dance at the same time.
When they arrive Leila is still nervous which is emphasized by using imagery, “A great quivering jet of gas lighted the ladies’ room. It couldn’t wait; it was dancing already”. The action of the story starts when Leila arrives at the ball. Everything to her is so magical, as so new. This is emphasized by the exaggerated description of the place, “The noise was deafening”. (I can’t remember the literature effect’s name. Even though I think it is wrong. ). As we mentioned before, the simplest thing astonishes her.
This time is conveyed by the detailed description of what is happening on the Ladies’ room. One clear example, is the description of how “Dark girls, fair girls were patting their hair, typing ribbons again, tucking handkerchiefs down the fronts of their bodies, smoothing marble-white gloves. And because they were all laughing it seemed to Leila that they were all lovely”. The dream-like world idea continues when Leila enters to the drill hall, her excitement and astonishment for everything, made Leila forget “to be shy”, and also to forget how her nervousness was about to made her not go to the ball.
This is showed in a flashback when she was “in the middle of dressing (and) she had sat down on the bed with one shoe off and one show one and begged her mother to ring up her cousins and say she couldn’t go after all”. This whole idea of the fairy- tale world is emphasized with Leila’s thoughts: “How heavenly; how simple heavenly! ” Mansfield compares the ball with heaven which shows Leila’s perfect and magic view of the ball. The rhetorical questions Leila makes throughout the short story emphasizes her naive and her thrill, “’Am I mean to have one too? ”, “Why didn’t the men begin? What were they waiting for? ” The music starts and Leila dances with two different young men. Mansfield uses the dialogue to show Leila’s and her partner thoughts. The fact that the partner “sounded tired” is a way that Mansfield uses to show the reader that Leila is dancing as if there was no tomorrow. Leila does not care answering to the same questions that every partner asked her, for her “it was thrilling. Her first ball! ”. She just thinks that the ball is magical, majestic and beautiful. (Do you think I should put something more in here? The climax occurs when Leila begins to dance with the old fat man. Mansfield description of this man is a rupture in the stereotype of the men that have been dancing with Leila. “when Leila compared him with her other partners he looked shabby”. This gives the reader a clue that this character is going to break Leila’s magic and beautiful world. The fat man upset her by revealing the might-be-true fact of what age could do to her. He says “long before that you’ll be sitting up there on the stage, looking on, in you nice black velvet.
And these pretty arms will have turned into little short fat ones, and you’ll beat time with such a different king of fan-a black bony one”. After this eye-opener of what might be her future, the reader can see how Leila’s thoughts start to turn into pessimistic and how she questions herself, “Was this first ball only the beginning of her last ball, after all? ”. The falling action occurs when “the music seemed to change; it sounded sad”. Pathetic fallacy is used by Mansfield with the music to represent Leila’s mood. Leila goes back in to time when “deep inside her a little girl threw her pinafore over her head and sobbed”.
She has stopped dancing and “didn’t want to dance more”. There are two ways of facing this problem, being pessimistic or optimistic. Suddenly another man asks her to dance with him, and she then has to make a decision. At first Mansfield presents Leila’s decision to dance with the “young man with curly hair” as a matter of politeness (it sounds a little bit strange, but I don’t know how to say it, “una cuestion de educacion”), but the magic of the ball makes her forget the whole conversation with the old man. So she decided to choose the second one.
When she steps on the dance floor, “in one minute, in one turn, her feet glided, glided. The light, the azaleas, the dresses, the pink face, the velvet chairs, all became one beautiful flying wheel”. Mansfield joins the end with the starting, by the word play of the words wheel and the cab bowled, “they bowled”,(I’m not sure if this makes sense), showing the return of the feelings of happiness and joy. She has forgotten totally the harsh conversation that even when she dances again with the old fat man “She didn’t even recognise him again. ”