Her First Ball Essay

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1. I used the short story “Her First Ball” by Mansfield to discuss how plot, characterization, setting, and point of view create meaning in a short story. The plot unfolds as the main character, Leila is at her first ball and her first exposition to society. The exposition explains the background information and how nervous Leila is by using imagery, “A great quivering jet of gas lighted the ladies’ room. It couldn’t wait; it was dancing already”(page 1). The dialogue in the exposition also hints that Leila is from the country and not familiar with the city, “Our nearest neighbor was fifteen miles” (page 11). The rising action of the story starts when Leila arrives at the ball. Everything to her is so magical, almost like a fairyland. The simplest things have her astonished. One example is “Dark girls, fair girls were patting their hair, tying ribbons, tucking handkerchiefs down the fronts of their bodices, smoothing marble-white gloves. And because they were all laughing it seemed to Leila that they were all lovely” (page 1). The climax occurs when Leila begins to dance with the old man. The man warns her that she will get old and her happiness will not last. 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 kind of fan-a black bony one” (page 1). The falling action occurs when the music seems to Leila sad and she wants to stop dancing. She goes back in to time when “deep inside her a little girl threw her pinafore over her head and sobbed” (page 00). She then has to make a decision, should she throw herself into life and have great fun or should she remain miserable because eventually she will get old anyway. The conclusion of the story is she decides to chose being happy and enjoy life’s experiences

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