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Close Reading Passage 1
Oh, the shame of it!...the sting and the shame. Her first ball, and not to have "taken," to have
failed to "attract the gentlemen"—this was a slur that would rest on her all her life. And yet...and
yet...in spite of everything, a small voice that wouldn't be silenced kept on saying: "It wasn't my
fault...it wasn't my fault!" (Or at least not except for the one silly mistake in the steps of the waltz.)
She had tried her hardest, done everything she was told to: had dressed up to please and look
pretty, sat in the front row offering her programme, smiled when she didn't feel a bit like
smiling...and almost more than anything she thought she hated the memory of that smile (it was
like trying to make people buy something they didn't think worth while.) For really, truly, right
deep down in her, she hadn't wanted "the gentlemen" any more than they'd wanted her: she had
only had to pretend to. And they showed only too plainly they didn't, by choosing other girls, who
were not even pretty, and dancing with them, and laughing and talking and enjoying them.—And
now, the many slights and humiliations of the evening crowding upon her, the long repressed tears
broke through; and with the blanket pulled up over her head, her face driven deep into the pillow,
she cried till she could cry no more.
from And Women Must Weep by Henry Handel Richardson
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