His First Ball – Witi Ihimaera
The short story His First Ball takes the reader through the journey starting when Tuta Wharepapa receives an invitation to the fancy Governors ball. Tuta is a young Maori man, living in a kind of, “nothing town”, he normally goes to work and doesn’t do much else. Tuta resists as his small town quickly jumps on board, pushing him to be someone he’s not. After a very uncomfortable night for Tuta being mocked by white people, he meets a very tall and somewhat un coordinated girl named Joyce. He comes to realise she is an outsider at this ball just like him.
This text is significant to readers as it teaches us not just to fit in, but to be yourself and thats enough. This is important for teenagers especially as it’s a time in our lives where we are testing the waters on who we really are and with this story it helps us to realise that we dont have to “fit in”. The story is basically saying that to fit into society we must first find our true self. We learn this after Tuta has been forced through a journey of “improving” himself in order to attend the ball, when in-fact he didn’t even want to go. Tuta then has a moment of self discovery, “if you could not join them—as if he would really want to do that—then, yes, he could beat them if he wanted to. Not by giving in to them, but by being strong enough to stand up to them. Dance, perhaps, but using his own steps.” This quote teaches us that by being yourself and dancing to your own beat you can truly be happy, it teaches us not to focus on what everyone else wants but what makes you fell confident.
This short story tells me a lot about the world we live in today. Everyone in Tuta’s town jumped on board to make sure he was a better person, Mrs Simmons for manner lessons, Desiree Dawn for dance lessons, even his mum wanted to change him.”Not only did his appearance have to be radically altered, but his manners had to be brushed up also”. This shows that in our societies it seems no one seems to think that if your different its never going to be good enough, someone is always going to want to change you to fit in. To me this seemed unfair for Tuta, until late in the night of the ball when Joyce came into the picture. In Tuta’s thoughts “he suddenly realised that after all he and Joyce were both outsiders.” I see this as the two of them being treated like outsiders just because they didn’t look the same as all the others, Tuta being Maori, Joyce being a tall lanky girl with glasses. They are made to feel mocked just because they are a minority.
Human history has shown how we have treated minorities over the years, black people used as slaves or Jewish people being exterminated. Times haves changed, but obviously not enough if these minority groups like Maoris or the so called “nerds” are still feeling like they have to hid or be the joke in the room. This text is a good example of this as Tuta and Joyce don’t fall into the trap of hiding in the corner anymore, they get up and dance. This shows not only the room but everyone who reads the text that they will not be held down anymore.