2. “Kezia,” Mother would call to her, “if you’re a good girl you can come down and take off father’s boots.” Slowly the girl would slip down the stairs, more slowly still across the hall, and push open the drawing-room door.
By that time he had his spectacles on and looked at her over them in a way that was terrifying to the little girl.
“Well, Kezia, hurry up and pull off these boots and take them outside. Have you been a good girl today?”
“I d-d-don’t know, Father.”
“You d-d-don’t know? If you stutter like that Mother will have to take you to the doctor.”
When the little girl's father sits in the drawing room ordering everyone about, she stands by the staircase witnessing everything. She is scared to go near him because he looks terrifying. The little girl's name is finally revealed as Kezia as her mother calls her out. Her mother does not understand that Kezia is scared of the father. She makes a statement that all parents do. She asks her if she is a good girl. Children generally seek validation from parents and love to be called a good girl/boy. They generally tend to do anything to get this appreciation. Her mother asks Kezia to come down the stairs and help her father to take off his boots. In the earlier days, it was common for children to do these chores for their fathers. Kezia did not want to create an impression of being a bad child and therefore comes down the stairs slowly. She walks in slow paces and opens the door of the drawing room. The tension and fear is easily sensed by the readers as she comes over to help out her father.
Since her father's mere presence was intimidating to Kezia, she is even more terrified when he puts on her spectacles and looks at her closely. It looks as if he is staring at her through the lens. He is already impatient and therefore asks Kezia to hurry up and take his boots outside. He again repeats the phrase of being a good girl to her. He asks her if she had been a good girl that day. Kezia, who is already scared, starts stuttering. It is very common for people to start stuttering when they get nervous. She says that she doesn't know if she was a good girl. Most often, young children are not taught what exactly it means to be good. Sometimes parents ask them for the sake of asking. Kezia is not very sure if her activities would be considered as good by her father, as she had never had a real conversation with him. Her father immediately retorts to poking fun at her and imitates her stutter. He also threatens that if she continues to stutter, he would have her mother take her to a doctor. Rather than trying to understand that he scares Kezia, her father only tries to terrify her more.
The little girl has stuttering problem with her father
Words with difficult meaning:
|Boots||A type of footwear that reaches above the ankle|
|Drawing-room||A hall or main room where guests are entertained|
|Stutter||To have difficulty in speaking|
|Intimidating||To have a fearful approach|
|Validation||To seek appreciation|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. The Little Girl - Katherine Mansfield (pp.32-35). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.