My first impression of Leila simply from the first page of “Her First Ball,” was that she was an innocent girl that wasn’t completely satisfied with her current situation in life. Leila was portrayed as having a weak/inexperienced heart. For example, “…she couldn’t have helped crying because she was an only child, and no brother had ever said ‘Twig? ’ to her” (265), and for the fact that being different from the others bothered her.
Despite her innocence and immaturity, she attempts to compose herself and act mature than she is capable of by “trying not to smile too much; she tried not to care” (265). Her life up to now wasn’t eventful or memorable in any way and she has a desire to cling onto the present/momentary excitement and not let go. “She would remember forever. It even gave her a pang to see her cousin Laurie throw away the wisps of tissue…as a keepsake, as a remembrance” (265), shows her emotions on how she wants to keep hold of every little detail of this first ball.
I made the connection of this ball being her first in relation to not only the actual ball, but numerous ‘first times’ down her path of becoming mature. First time interacting with the opposite gender, feeling the lack of maturity amongst the other girls in the ladies’ room and first time in being hit in the head with reality, a frightening image from the fat man that Leila had never considered before, resulting in a somewhat loss of her previous innocence.
I was able to relate to Leila’s situation of having missed out on the experiences of the ‘real world,’ such as the comparison between Leila and the Sheridan girls. Having lived in Abbotsford for my entire middle school life, I believe I missed out on experiences that I would have had if I lived out in the city (Surrey), seeing that Abbotsford is relatively an isolated/country city. Although I wasn’t as isolated as having the “nearest neighbor for fifteen miles” (265), I felt I could relate to Leila’s uncontrollable excitement that she felt while she was taking in her new surroundings.
The impactful last sentence of the story, “She didn’t even recognize him again” (270), I found it almost eerie regarding the fact that it seemed like her memory was wiped blank. I questioned that even though her innocence was already long gone, whether that meant she would have to go through the same horrible process of being hit on the head by reality, as the first time she met the fat man and how she will be able to cope with the shock and sadness she feels every time.
Throughout the reading, her style of writing, her word choices portrayed Leila’s perspective of her first ball in a magical/fantasy way. The presentation of a perfectly set up ball, “she clutched her fan, and gazing at the gleaming, golden floor, the azaleas, the lanterns, the stage at one end with its red carpet…how heavenly; how simply heavenly (267)! Every little detail was attractive and well suited to her fantastical desires. Leila was not yet revealed to the somewhat frightening reality that comes along with her magical world that is inevitable.