The Little Girl
By Katherine Mansfield
Image Reference: nzedge.com
About the Author
Katherine Mansfield had been New Zeeland’s most famous writer, who was closely associated with D.H. Lawrence. Her creative years were burdened with loneliness, illness, jealousy and alienation. All this reflected in her work with the bitter depiction of marital and family relationships of her middle-class characters.
Born: 14 October 1888, Wellington, New Zealand
Died: 9 January 1923, Fontainebleau, France
Text Reference: wikipedia
This is a story of a little girl – Kezia who is extremely afraid of her father. Being an over disciplined man, he was strict with Kezia as well. He never had those soft feelings for his little daughter nor did he pet her for a while. She always stuttered when she talked to him. She longed to play with her father but she knew that it was impossible as he was very busy and had no time for his family. However, one day Kezia’s Father changed and she felt his love for her.
(Stutter = to have a speech problem that causes you to repeat the beginning sound of some words)
This story depicts the relationship between father and daughter. The little girl, Kezia is much afraid of her father. She always stutters when she talks to him. Kezia has to take off her father’s boots when he gets home from work but he is not satisfied with that. Kezia always went to the church with her father on Sundays. On Sundays afternoons grandmother sent Kezia down to the drawing-room to have a nice talk with father and mother but they were always busy and had no time for her.
One day grandmother told Kezia that it was father’s birthday the next week. Kezia decided to make a pincushion to present her father as a birthday gift. She had nothing to fill it with. She went into mother’s bedroom to look for scraps. She found there many sheets of paper and tore them into pieces and stuffed the case. She did not know that they were the important papers of her father. Father found out the truth and whipped Kezia with a ruler. The child never forgot that.
One day Kezia looked through a gap at the neighbouring house. Father was playing with his 5 children. They looked very happy. When compared with her scary father who never played with her, Kezia saw the height of love between father and children next door and she loved their family.
One day mother became ill and Kezia was left alone with Alice in the house. Alice put her to bed, but Kezia was afraid that she would have a nightmare. Alice asked Kezia not to make noise because she would wake her father. But Kezia really had a nightmare. Father came and took her into his bedroom. Tired out Father slept before the little girl. Kezia held tightly to his pyjama jacket. Kezia understood that her father was working hard every day and had no time for her. She felt sorry for him. She thought that her father had a big heart.
Short and Long Answer Type Questions
Q. Who were the people in Kezia’s family?
Ans. Kezia’s family consisted of her mother, father, grandmother and herself.
Q. What was Kezia’s father’s routine before going to his office?
Ans. Before going to his office, Kezia’s father usually went into her room to give her a casual kiss.
Q. What was Kezia’s father’s routine after coming back from his office?
Ans. After coming back from his office, he ordered for tea to bring into the drawing room. He also asked his mother to bring him the newspaper and his slippers, and Kezia to pull off his boots.
Q. What was Kezia’s father’s routine on Sundays?
Ans. On Sunday, Kezia’s father would stretch out on the sofa. He would cover his face with his handkerchief, put his feet on one of the cushions and sleep soundly.
Q. Why was Kezia scared of her father?
Ans. Kezia’s father was a busy man He was so much lost in his work that he had no time for his family. Being an over disciplined man, he was very strict and gave commands to everyone in the house. He never played with her. He never had those soft feelings for his little daughter nor did he pet her for a while. His presence at home frightened Kezia and she felt relieved when he was gone.
Q. What was unusual about Kezia’ stuttering?
Ans. Kezia could speak well but in her father’s presence she stuttered because of fear.
Q. How did Kezia make a pin-cushion for her father?
Ans. Kezia made a pin-cushion for her father’s birthday. She had given all her heart to make the cushion as beautiful as possible. After sewing three sides of the cushion, she went all through the house in search of cotton to fill it. Having failed to secure cotton, she found a pile of papers on which her father had written an important speech which he had to deliver to the Port Authorities. She tore them into pieces and stuffed the case. She did not know that they were the important papers of her father.
Q. To what extend do you blame Kezia for tearing her father’s papers?
Ans. Kezia cannot be entirely blamed for tearing her father’s speech to fill the cushion. She was too small to understand the importance of a speech to her father. Considering her concern for her father, she cannot be blamed for all that she had done.
Q. Why did Kezia like Mr. Macdonalds?
Ans. The Macdonalds who lived next door made a happy and cheerful family. Looking through a gap, Kezia saw the five children playing with their father. When compared with her scary father who never played with her, Kezia saw the height of love between father and children next door and she loved the MacDonald family.
Q. Why did Kezia feel scared to sleep alone?
Ans. Kezia was scared of her father’s presence at home. She often had the same nightmare in which there always appeared a scary butcher. In fact her imagination had personified her own scary father as the butcher. In all her nightmares she was on flight from this butcher while her feet stood unmovable
Q. In what ways did Kezia’s grandmother encourage her to get to know her father better?
Ans. Kezia’s grandmother encouraged her to get to know her father better by sending her to the drawing room and talk to her parents on Sundays. She also suggested Kezia to make a pin cushion out of a beautiful piece of yellow silk as a gift for her father’s birthday.
Q. Kezia’s efforts to please her father resulted in displeasing him very much. How did this happen?
Ans. Kezia made a pin-cushion for her father’s birthday. She had given all her heart to make the cushion as beautiful as possible. After stitching three sides of the cushion, Kezia was stuck as to what to fill the cushion with. She went to her mother’s room and discovered some sheets of paper on the bed table. She gathered these, tore them up and filled the cushion with the torn pieces. But all her efforts to please her father not only went in vain but also she was punished for it. This was because the sheets she had torn were her father’s speech for the Port Authority. Her father scolded her for touching things that did not belong to her and punished her by hitting her palm with a ruler.
Q. Kezia decides that there are “different kinds of fathers”. What kind of father was Mr Macdonald, and how was he different from Kezia’s father?
Ans. Kezia compared her father with Mr. Macdonald, her next door neighbour. He was a loving, gentle and forgiving father. He was always smiling and playing with his children. He treated his children in a friendly manner. He was just opposite to the Kezia’s father. Unlike Kezia’s father he never punished his children. He played with them whenever he was free. Kezia’s father was very harsh and a strict disciplinarian.
Q. How does Kezia begin to see her father as a human being who needs her sympathy?
Ans. With her mother and grandmother at the hospital, Kezia is left at home in the care of Alice, the cook. At night, after she is put to bed by the cook, she has a nightmare. She calls for her grandmother but, to her surprise, she finds her father standing near her bed. He takes her in his arms and makes her sleep next to him. Her father goes off to sleep before her. Kezia understood that her father was working hard every day and had no time for her. She felt sorry for him. She thought that her father had a big heart.
Q. Do you justify Kezia’ father’s punishing her for ruining his great speech? Give reasons.
Ans. Children should be punished when it is necessary to do so. Being a parent, he did not understand the feeling of his daughter and punished her. Kezia was too small to understand the importance of the papers. On one side, the sheets were important for him but the fact that Kezia ruined them for making him a birthday gift stands strongly against the father.