Can we see a concern with frivolous things in "The Garden Party"?
People did not think about social or political upheaval, a great
economic depression, or war. Instead, people were concerned with much less important things.
This is definitely observed in this story. However, I would want to add that it is the upper class that are concerned with frivolous affairs. It is they who have the luxury and the money to be able to spend their time focusing on such concerns. The working classes are shown to live bleak lives characterised by struggle and effort. Note how easily Laura is persuaded to not cancel the garden party by her mother with the aid of a new hat, "trimmed with golden daisies and a long black velvet ribbon." The opportunity to wear such a hat, which makes her look like a beautiful young woman, causes Laura to forget her scruples about holding a Garden Party when the nearby Scott family has just suffered such a terrible tragedy. Likewise, note the way that Laura reflects on the corpse of Mr. Scott:
What did garden parties and baskets and lace frocks matter to him? He was far from all those things. He was wonderful, beautiful. While they were laughing and while the band was playing, this marvel had come to the lane.
The body of Mr. Scott stands as a rebuke to Laura and her preoccupation with her appearance and the party, supporting the definite theme of frivolous pass-times that are engaged in by the rich. Laura, when she sees the body of Mr. Scott, understands herself and her class much better as she sees a man at peace.