What literary techniques does the author use in "The Garden Party?"

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This story is an excellent example of the short story genre and shows how much an author can pack into a relatively small package. Mansfield uses a very wide array of literary techniques. Here are a few that you could consider in an examination of this story:

  • Imagery -- the descriptions of the flowers, the gardens, the preparations for the party, the clothing. All of these work together to create a scene of festive anticipation for a lovely party.
  • Imagery -- the descriptions of the walk down the street to the dead man's home and the actual interior of his house and his dead body laid out on the table. All these serve to show the extreme difference in mood and atmosphere from the first half of the story.
  • Irony -- that Laura, the youngest and most naive, is the one most matured by the realization about death she achieves by the end of the story.
  • Dialogue -- the conversations between Laura and her mother, Laura and the workers, Laura and the dead man's family, and Laura and her brother all serve to further characterize different facets of her dynamic character.
  • Symbolism -- her hat -- symbolizes the festive and "over the top" wealth and atmosphere of the garden party, and yet it is completely out of place at the dead man's wake.
  • Methods of characterization -- Mansfield uses a great variety of techniques here and blends them well: what Laura and/or other characters do, say, think, and what others think about her or them. There are many examples of each.
  • Light and Dark contrasting imagery to highlight the difference between the party and the wake.
  • Setting -- the garden party at the top of the hill -- the higher-ups versus, the wake at the bottom of the hill -- the lower class people.
  • Themes -- loss of innocence, social class differences and social class expectations, sympathy and empathy -- to name a few.

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