The Garden Party: And Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

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Give examples of Laura's love of simple and natural things.

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A significant part of Laura's characterization is her love of simple and natural things.  The opening line of the story is one that Laura shares and understands:  "AND after all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it. Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud."  Laura shares this idea and carries it with her throughout the narrative.  The love of the natural world, and the day, itself, is a part of her understanding throughout the day. While she struggles with issues of life and death, she does so under the reverence of a...

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Laura is first introduced in "The Garden Party" as the most artistic individual. This character trait suggests her affinity for simple and natural things as one component of artistry is the ability to see what is beautiful and remarkable in the ordinary and plain.

'"You'll have to go, Laura; you're the artistic one."

     Away Laura flew, still holding her piece of bread-and-butter. It's so delicious to have an excuse for eating out of doors, and besides, she loved having to arrange things."

In the previous passage, Laura also demonstrates a deep appreciation for simple pleasures, such as being able to enjoy eating a piece of bread-and-butter outside while walking to her destination. Upon encountering some workmen and experiencing a slight amount of embarrassment and intimidation, Laura feels comforted when she begins to appreciate their friendly smiles. She immediately begins to admire the lovely morning as well, but she also reminds herself to remain bussinesslike.

"His smile was so easy, so friendly that Laura recovered. What nice eyes he had, small, but such a dark blue! And now she looked at the others, they were smiling too. "Cheer up, we won't bite," their smile seemed to say. How very nice workmen were! And what a beautiful morning!"

Laura also takes the time to admire one workman who also shares her appreciation for simple things. Her admiration reveals not only a love for what is simple but also for what is natural.

"Only the tall fellow was left. He bent down, pinched a sprig of lavender, put his thumb and forefinger to his nose and snuffed up the smell. When Laura saw that gesture she forgot all about the karakas in her wonder at him caring for things like that - caring for the smell of lavender. How many men that she knew would have done such a thing? Oh, how extraordinarily nice workmen were, she thought."

Laura sees this behavior, sniffing the lavender, as something rare and uncommon thus making it precious and extraordinary. Her aversion to extravagance and the subtle assertion that she has never cultivated an extravagant appearance before furthers her devotion to simple things.

"There, quite by chance, the first thing she saw was this charming girl in the mirror, in her black hat trimmed with gold daisies, and a long black velvet ribbon. Never had she imagined she could look like that. Is mother right? she thought. And now she hoped her mother was right. Am I being extravagant? Perhaps it was extravagant."