HER FIRST BALL (1921)

Mansfield, brought up in New Zealand, was a notable writer of short stories.

Get students to explore the ways in which Mansfield presents Leila’s thoughts and feelings before and during the ball. It would be useful to consider the way in which Leila is different from the other girls and how this affects their (and our) impressions of her. How do they think Mansfield captures the excitement of the ball? Students should pay particular attention to the contribution to the story of the two men who dance with Leila, the odious fat man and then the young man with curly hair. They should examine carefully the words Mansfield uses in the dialogue and description to guide readers’ responses to the various characters.

Wider reading

Other short stories by Katherine Mansfield such as

The Daughters of the Late Colonel and The Garden Party

.

Students might enjoy the novel

The Getting of Wisdom

(by Henry Handel Richardson) about a twelve year old girl’s experience at a boarding school in Melbourne (which has been popular as a past IGCSE set text).

Compare with

The Yellow Wall Paper

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Destructors

by Graham Greene

The Taste of Watermelon

by Borden Deal

To Da-duh, In Memoriam

by Paule Marshall

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