In "The Garden Party," how do the relationships between the Sheridans cope with the expectations of society?
I was thinking along the lines of the way society percieves the Sheridans causing the relationships the family has with one and other to be belittled as they want to stay looking like high class and not show much emotion.
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Well, let us remember that the key divisive factor if we examine the relationships between the Sheridans is Laura, who, in her youth and her dismissive attitude towards class differences requests that the garden party be cancelled because of the death of the workman who lives nearby. However, her request is met by stony indifference by both her sister and her mother. The response of her mother in particular is interesting to examine:
"You are being very absurd, Laura," she said coldly. "People like that don't expect sacrifices from us. And it's not very sympathetic to spoil everybody's enjoyment as you're doing now."
Laura's lack of class consciousness is leading her to fall into the fatal mistake of believing that everybody is equal and should be treated as if they were equal. However, Laura's mother is able to distract her daughter by the gift of a new hat, and Laura's vanity is sufficiently flattered so that she forgets about the death of the workman and her moral scruples and enjoys the party.
In response to the explanation that you give of your question, however, I don't think there is any proof that the Sheridans are belittled because of the united front they present. Laura's objections are quickly dealt with and we are told that the party was actually a success. Note the comments that we are given from the various guests:
"Never a more delightful garden party..." "The greatest success..." "Quite the most..."
Thus there appears to be no evidence of the Sheridans being mocked because of their division or because of their class.
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