The story “His First Ball” by Witi Ihimaera is a story about social differences that sometimes put false boundaries between people. This essay is an analysis of the character Tuta Wharepapa from the aforementioned story that shows his usual behavior and how he interacts with the people in a way that demonstrates that he has to be himself to enjoy life.
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At the beginning of the story Tuta receives the invitation, and according to his reaction, it could be implied that Tuta does not belong to the class that is supposed to be invited to the governor’s house. Furthermore, the reaction of his mother is demonstrating that Tutu is not the most responsible person in the world, as she suggested that the envelope could contain summons to the court. The skeptical reaction of Tuta is his way to demonstrate his total surprise at such a fact that could rather be a joke than reality.
After he confirms the information about his invitation, everybody around Tuta got excited about the fact that someone they know will have the possibility to attend such an event. It could be noted that their excitement is rather about the class of the people that will be attending than the event itself, i.e. the ball. Possible hints made throughout the text imply that the governor and the guests that attend the ball in his house are of totally different classes and ethnicity.
This class put certain requirements on the people attending such events in terms of the overall look, dress, and behavior. This is where Tuta starts to obtain valuable knowledge on how to properly behave and dress, where it should be mentioned that this process involved the participation of all his friends to whom the idea was so exciting.
This excitement did not turn to Tuta, as his logic was refusing to accept the need for some actions. Why the need for many forks and glasses for different meals and drinks. Why should he abandon some of the habits that he got used to doing regularly that distinguish him from the others? E.g. drinking beer, keeping the long hair, wearing purple, and listening to hot rock music are the things that he should abandon to attend the party. While the reactions of others imply that they willingly would do all the aforementioned to be at his place, Tuta seems skeptical and unimpressed.
The action switches to the ball, where Tuta finds out that all his attempts mimicking the actions or the behavior of so-called “prestigious society” people bring nothing but laugh at him. Distortion of his name, his dance, and the way he eats amuse the guests who already know who he is and laugh at his poor attempts to imitate them. Tuta finds relief when he finds Joyce, who mentioned that she was at his place before him. Suddenly he acknowledges with Joyce’s help that they can beat “them” by not following their games.
Tuta is more relaxed with a girl who he can relate to him, as they both feel like “outcasts” in this ball. Tuta’s character has no objection to dancing with 6 feet tall girl, as he was taught to dance with a 6 feet tall transvestite, so he realizes that by acting naturally without mimicking the “beautiful” people they win in their own game.
The progress in Tuta’s character is obvious as he reaches his own conclusions rather than following what others want him to do. When he returns to his old self he acknowledges that this all was a false shell when he got into it he was laughed at, and when he got out of it he enjoyed life.