What does "The Garden Party" signify?
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"The Garden Party" by Katherine Mansfield is a wonderful, multi-layered story about a young girl who, after spending a wonderful day at a garden party, travels down the road to visit the home and family of young man who was killed on the street earlier that day. The stark contrast between the two events serves to illustrate the theme of loss of innocence.
On the day of the party the young lady, Laura, is caught up in the preparations for the garden party and what hat she ought to wear. Once she hears that a man has been killed down the way she immediately thinks they should cancel their party, but in reality, her world and the world of the poor worker couldn't be further away and her mother says, "don't be absurd...don't be so extravagant." The mother is directly commenting on the youthful innocence of her daughter. The party goes on as expected, but the idea of the dead man hasn't left Laura's mind. She asks if she can bring a basket of food to the grieving family, and that short journey down the road brings her to a very mature understanding of life and death. She is very uncomfortable in the dead man's home surrounded by his family members, but when she actually sees the peaceful look on the man's face as he lies in repose, she realizes there is a simple eloquence in death that everyone shares. She tells her brother that the experience was "simply marvellous." While this sounds a bit odd, it is a perfect expression of her growth and new-found maturity. She sees into the complexity of life and the simplicity of death and she is a different person after this experience.
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