Her First Ball Analysis

In this essay, I will explore the language devices used by Katherine Mansfield to present Leila in a specific way.
In the first paragraph, Leila is seeing 'waltzing lamp-posts and houses and fences and trees'. The use of the verb 'waltzing' reminds us that Leila is going to a ball, and the repeated use of the word 'and' as opposed to commas convey a sense of excitement, like a small child does when talking about Christmas.
She is very emotional in the cab going to the ball. Mansfield says that seeing Leila's cousin throw away wisps of tissue paper gave her a 'pang'. This is quite a dramatic word, which implies that anything could set her off. We see again that she is emotional when she refers to herself being an only child and that 'she couldn't have helped crying', which I feel shows her loneliness, and how isolated she has felt up until now when she is finally going to her first ball.
Leila's isolation may be a cause of her apparent naïvety. When she is in the ladies room, she says that 'because they were all laughing, it seemed to Leila that they were all lovely'. The use of the word 'seemed' conveys a sense that the character Mansfield has created sees things as they are and does not delve deeper into a possible different meaning behind their laughing; it could have been nervous laughs and everyone could have been just as worried as her, but Leila sees their laughs as girls simply having fun. In the ladies room, we see how insecure Leila is when her fingers 'shook' as she gets a programme. It is normal for her to be nervous, but the use of the word 'shook' shows that she is extremely nervous as that gives a very powerful image for the reader.

There is a very interesting juxtaposition of adverbs. The girls apparently look at Leila 'sweetly, vaguely'. The use of the adverb 'sweetly' implies that they know Leila very well, but in contrast the adverb 'vaguely' is a look that strangers may give each other. This implies that the girls may not be as lovely...