At Hiruharama by Penelope Fitzgerald (notes)

This short story is about a man and his wife’s life. Mr. Tanner meets with Kitty at a store and they get married. When Tanner learns that Kitty is pregnant, he gets surprised. He starts to do some calculations about the big day. He goes to the doctor and asks him about life statistics. Then he buys some pigeons to call the doctor. When the big day comes, Tanner gets excited and at that time their neighbour Brinkman comes. Brinkman is a man who is very lonely and isolated. He is interested in women also. After that, Tanner manages to born the baby. Unfortunetly, he throws the second baby away. The doctor comes and saves the second baby. and Tanner hangs his motto on his wall, “Throw Nothing Away”.


Mr. Tanner:

  • worried
  • anxious
  • apprehensive
  • distressed
  • restless
  • fearful
  • cautious
  • uneasy
  • loving


  • placid
  • tranquil
  • calm
  • quiet,
  • peaceful
  • strong


  • self centered
  • selfish
  • calm
  • carefree
  • reckless
  • absorbed
  • lonely
  • isolated
  • desperate


Fitzgerald’s narration is very inportant. It is a third person limited narration which we can not understand any deeper feelings of the characters. The narration becomes first person narration because the author wants to explain a story about Tanner and Kitty in a believeable way.

Author’s word choice is very important. Doctor’s movements and characters actions explained with this.

Also the attitudes of the characters are portrayed so well that the reader feels like the story is real.


Her First Ball (Student Notes)

It is about a country girl called Leila who has never been to a ball. Her cousins invited her to a ball and she got very excited. She was very unexperienced about city life and balls. An interesting night was waiting Leila with a gorgeous drill hall and some weird partners. Leila was dreaming a beatiful life but she couldn’t find what she expected…

The story starts in cab, then ladies room. It is the introduction of the story. Rising action starts with partners. First and second partners starts to increase tension. When fat man comes to dance with Leila, climax starts. His comments is the part that the tension is the highest. After that, fat man’s leaving and 4th partner is the falling action. The forth partner and Leila’s dancing is very important but we can not call that climax. Finally, when the ball was over the reader comes to the conclusion and the story ends.

The author wrote this story with third omniscient person.(the “eye” of God) We can see everything with this method in the story, Leila’s feelings,the atmosphere etc. Unfortunately there are some things that reader can see but Leila can’t. The author also used an amazing method called stream of consciousness method. This method creates the excitement in the story. Leila was very careful in the beginning then at the end everything become a beautiful flying wheel. The author wanted to explain a lot of themes in the story like naivety, old generation vs. new generation and innocence. Every circumstance has a different tone and theme in the story that the reader can get thrilled easily.

The tone of this story is thrilling,exciting and different. Fat man and Leila’s dancing is very exciting in the story. Unfortunetly, mood is always changing in the story, We can say happy, excited, nervous, sad, disappointed, careful, relaxed, careless, fearful and thrilling for the mood of the story. When we look at the personifications, waltzing lamp posts,quivering jet of gas dancing, flags were talking can be ex. for it. There are a few ironies in the story but they make it stronger. The invisible hairpin can be the best example for irony.

My Greatest Ambition (Student Notes)

It is about a boy who wants to be a comic-strip artist one day. He explains his friend’s attitudes towards his job in first person narration. He draws his first comic and sent to a magazine for publication with the help of his friend. Magazine likes his comic and offers him some money. Lurie the protagonist becomes very happy and draws his second comic and again sends it to the magazine. Magazine rejects his second work and Lurie gets very disappointed. He grew out of comics after that…

Lurie:(Dynamic Character)

  • dreamer
  • changes his mind quickly
  • hopeful
  • exaggerative
  • 13 years old
  • anxious
  • impatient
  • isolated
  • careless about his father
  • confused


  • cares about only money
  • materialist
  • a great scoffer
  • impatient
  • not sophisticated
  • stubborn
  • humiliates his son

Michael Lazarus:

  • helpful
  • supports Lurie
  • put publication in Lurie’s mind


  • does not respond to Lurie
  • loves gossip
  • loves to brag about achievements
  • not so impressive on her son

Mr Randell

  • dishonest
  • fake behaviours
  • editor of the magazine
  • sees Lurie as a child
  • first person narration
  • the words and phrases used in parantheses
  • father’s weird accent(we see that the family is immigrant)
  • use of dialogues to create characterization and themes
  • good word choice
  • repetition of questions
  • organisation of story and language
  • Lurie’s own childhood memory

Custody of the Pumpkin (Use of Humour)


  • obsession, Ambition,priority
  • social class difference
  • humuiliation
  • prejudice
  • materialism
  • arrogance
  • sarcasm and humour

Ways that creates the humour:

  • Use of similes:(like an elderly leopard, like a fish, like a setter… etc.)

It helps to understand the characters better by indirect characterization. Character’s actions and emotions are explained. It also creates the tone and mood.

  • Narration: Third person omniscient limited

It is useful for characterization. We can easily understand Lord’s attitude towards son. It creates the protagonist and it helps us to understand Lord’s thoughts and effects on the other characters better.

  • Diction: showing the class difference

It is useful for characterization. The category difference between the characters are outstanding. Repetition and exaggeration is also used to create the humuor.

  • Setting: It changes throughout the story. (Imagery)

With the help of diction and imagery, setting is created. Imagery is used here because ıt helps to understand and think about the story better.

  • Tone/Mood:

As the tone and mood is humorous, it creates the humour. It is created by character’s actions.

  • İrony:

Ironies also help the reader to think about the story, to feel the story and to feel the humour.

Custody of a Pumpkin (Plot)

This story is about a Lord, who just thinks of his pumpkins, instead of his son. English upper-class society reflects the author’s birth, education and youthful writing career. Lord Emsworth, the protagonist sees his son kissing a girl who is the cousin of his head-gardener. He immediately fires his gardener and the girl. Then he regrets about it and goes to London to take him back. When he goes there he gets humiliated by the crowd. He meets with the girl’s father, MR. Donalson. Mr. Donaldson sais that he loved Lord’s son and want to take him to America to work with him. Lord Emsworth accepts it and he gets happy that his son is going away. After that, his head-gardener Angus comes back and they win a prize in a pumpkin competition.

Custody of Pumpkin (Characterisation)

Lord Emsworth:

  • fluffy minded
  • amiable old gentleman
  • arrogant
  • upper-class
  • Ninth Earl of Emsworth
  • wealthy
  • loves gardening
  • elegant
  • protagonist
  • conceited
  • haughty
  • selfish
  • bossy

Hon. Freddie:

  • son of Lord Emsworth
  • does not like loyalty
  • naughty
  • respectful
  • intelligent
  • young
  • smiling
  • different in morals, appearance


  • medium-height
  • red beard
  • honest
  • intelligent
  • passionate
  • cute
  • has a weird talking
  • respectful
  • faithful
  • helpful
  • patriot


  • servant
  • faithful
  • helpful
  • respectful

Robert Barker:

  • low-class
  • useless
  • gardener

Aggie Donaldson:

  • beatiful
  • young
  • cousin of Angus
  • play the saxophone
  • friendly

Mr. Donaldson:

  • rich
  • lives in states
  • Dog- Biscuits company
  • likes Fredddie
  • friendly
  • modest
  • humble
  • respectful
  • helpful
  • tall
  • handsome
  • keen

Sir Gregory:

  • gentleman
  • sportman
  • upper-class
  • loves gardening
  • kind
  • rival for Emsworth
  • has a brooding look

The Hunting Snake (Student Notes)

It is a simple poem with 4 stanzas and monosyllabic lines. This simple structure, shows the harmony of the nature. Speaker adores the nature and she realizes the importance of nature in the poem. Snake’s movements and the speaker’s attitude is regular and tight that the poem is  very easy to understand with this structure.

The sound effects used in this poem represents snake’s movements and actions. It is effective for the speaker because she gets frightened and impressed of snake’s actions. Alliteration is mostly used to describe these things.(“f” sound in followed,food-”s” sound in still,stood) Aliteration helps us to feel like the speaker.

Imagery and contrast are also very important. Visual imagery like “under the autumn’s gentlest sky” shows the peaceful mood and tone. Imagery shows admiration,awe,scary mood mostly. It creates the effect of the speaker’s feelings towards the snake.

An essay by a student about these points:

This poem is considered one of the most simple poems , yet striking in its experience. It deals with a personal feeling experienced by the poet who happened to meet a snake once. Her feeling at that moment is somewhat confusing. She is bewildered by  the sense of awe and fear and how these two contradictory feelings co-exist and intermingle in a way that surprises not only the speaker but also the reader.

The poem is written in traditional four-line stanzas, a simple rhythm and rhyme pattern. The speaker opens the poem with a perfect picture. It’s a wonderful weather “sun-warmed in this late season’s grace”, it’s autumn where the weather is mostly warm and quiet. The first stanza suggests that everything seem in harmony, the sky is “gentlest” and the pace is slow and romantic. Such words never bring in the reader’s mind any suspicion or doubt. On the contrary, it suggests tranquility and romanticism. However, what breaks this silence and peaceful mood is the appearance of “great black snake” the image itself is shocking and horrifying. The reader never imagined the “reeling by” snake. The vivid imagery used in this stanza sounds wonderful and appealing.

Moving on to the second stanza, the speaker starts giving a graphic description of that “great black snake”, the colour itself is terrifying and build an intense image that contradicts with the perfect picture she created earlier. The speaker extends this horrific picture through the few lines that followed “head down, tongue flickering on the trail” the reader senses danger every where now. The speaker is building a dark, scary picture of a snake who is wondering about looking for a prey in the grass.

The Destructors (Student Notes)

The story is about a generation who live in East London after World War II. The children create a gang called “Wormsley Common Gang” and they want to breake the laws. Blackie is the first leader of the gang but then Trevor comes and takes the power and leadership. He starts to rule the gang. Trevor is different from others


  • well-educated
  • evil
  • has no emotions
  • comes from an upper-class society
  • his father is an architect
  • organised and planned
  • a good leader
  • diferent from other gang memebers
  • wants the revenge of the war


  • hopeless and sad
  • loves to break laws
  • old leader of the group
  • a little jealous
  • mature
  • doubtful
  • not well organised
  • not educated well
  • a good leader
  • wants the gang to be famous

Old Misery:

  • old
  • has a lot of money
  • lives in a good house
  • poor
  • kind
  • generous
  • naive
  • experienced about wars
  • hopeful
  • happy


  • young
  • respectful
  • obedient
  • innocent
  • naive
  • in abetter relationship with his family above others
  • helpful

Truck Driver:

  • naive
  • experienced about destroying(destructing)


  • after World War II
  • East London
  • everything is grey in the story
  • Wormsley Common Undergrouns Station
  • gloomy
  • dark
  • hopeless
  • 1960′s
  • A new generation has been grown up
  • important for the development of the story


  • gloomy
  • dark
  • hopeless
  • sad
  • unhappy

note: Mood and tone is same in this story!


  • Mike wants to go to the church but none of the gang members wants is. He is obedient.
  • Old Misery was thinking his house before he came in. He had no idea about the destruction.
  • Old Misery was forced to climb walls into his own garden.


  • how children affected from World War II
  • a boy comes from an upper-class society wants his revenge
  • life in East London after the war


  • Trevor’s visit to Old Misery’s house; destruction
  • Trevor’s new and good ideas at the beginning of the story; a new leader is showing up
  • Trevor’s behaviours; no emotions(“love” and “hate”)


  • T’s behaviour towards Mr. Thomas(no harm,treated well)
  • T’s attitude towards Old Misery’s BEATIFUL house(he still wants to destroy it.)
  • Truck Driver’s behaviour to the destruction(we expect him to be guilty.)


  • old generation vs. new generation
  • gang members; naivete
  • T’s leadership; power
  • everything is grey; hopeless


  • creates the tension
  • helps the reader to emphasize with the story
  • grey,ash,beatiful!
  • creates the meaning of the story

because he was living in an upper-class society before the war. He wants to take his revenge by destroying a famous house but other members just want to show the gang’s power in the story.

Revision Booklet on Katherine Mansfield by Mrs Matthews

Below is a fantastic revision booklet created by Mrs Matthews. It is a fantastic resource for students looking at Mansfield’s ‘Her First Ball’



Word find


Ladies room Drill hall Programmes Coloured flags Chaperones Gliding

Fat man Floated Steered Azaleas Mademoiselle Twinkletoes Glided

Stiffly Flying

Mrs Matthews Year 11 Short text revision part 1.


Her First Ball

Katherine Mansfield














1. Where is this story set? NewZealand
2. Perhaps Leila’s first real partner was… TheCab
3. “ It did not matter that she shared the cab with the ……….. girls and their brother. Sheridan
4. Evidence of her isolation- how many miles to get a cup of sugar?

5. Dancing takes place in the DrillHall
6. The very feminine coloured programmes pinkandsilver 7. Animal noise greatest indication of setting MorePork
8. Females to escort dancers chaperones
9. Location of Leila’s early dance lessons Missionhall

  1. Her teacher MissEccles
  2. “She floated away like a flower that is …………. into a pool”tossed
  3. “Floor’s not bad’, said the new voice. Did one always begin with

the floor? And then, ‘Were you at the ………………. On Tuesday?


  1. An ideal refreshment for the tired dancers ice
  2. Compared to the other dancers, the fat man looked


  1. Fat man’s pet name for Leila
  2. Flower that recurs often in the story

Mademoiselle Twinkletoes azaleas

Mrs Matthews Year 11 Short text revision part 1.


Her First Ball Katherine Mansfield