How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped

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"How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped" is a 1912 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in Rhythm in September 1912 under the penname of Lili Heron.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Pearl Button is playing outside whilst her mother is ironing clothes. Two Māori women go up to her and ask her to come with them. After a long walk they arrive at a Māori settlement, where the little girl is given a fruit to eat. Then they drive towards the seaside. Pearl has never seen the sea; they play about. Suddenly blue men are coming their way to pick her up.


  • Pearl Button
  • two Māori women
  • more Māori people

Major themes[edit]

  • Māori culture : the story is written from the child's perspective, who takes to Māori culture right away. However, she is scared by the white men coming to pick her up.

Literary significance[edit]

The text is written in the modernist mode, without a set structure, and with many shifts in the narrative.


  1. ^ Katherine Mansfield, Selected Stories, Oxford World's Classics, explanatory notes