Epiphany comes at the end of "The Garden Party." Laura begins the story lacking insight and understanding. She happily greets the workers who have arrived at her home to help her family set up for their event. After this encounter, Laura is blithely convinced that there is no difference between...
Epiphany comes at the end of "The Garden Party." Laura begins the story lacking insight and understanding. She happily greets the workers who have arrived at her home to help her family set up for their event. After this encounter, Laura is blithely convinced that there is no difference between the classes and that they can all get along.
After a worker who lives near their home is killed, Laura wants to cancel the party out of respect, only to be bought off when her mother gives her a pretty new hat to wear to it.
The working-class people only become real to Laura as she enters their turf to deliver a basket of leftover food to the dead man's family. At this point she has her first epiphany, as she realizes the class divide is real and can't be as easily conquered as she thought. She finds herself extremely out of place as she walks among the cottages of the poor:
How her frock shone! And the big hat with the velvet streamer—if only it was another hat! Were the people looking at her? They must be. It was a mistake to have come; she knew all along it was a mistake.
Laura becomes even more uncomfortable as she enters the dead man's house and the economic differences between her life and his family's become more apparent. It is worse when she goes into the bedroom to see the dead man. She realizes how frivolous her pleasures are compared to what has happened to him. She apologizes for her hat: this gesture can mean nothing to her hosts, but it conveys her epiphany, or realization, that going to a party so she could show off a pretty hat was shameful in light of the death she has now witnessed.
Finally, at the end, she tries to communicate to her brother Laurie her epiphany that life is more complex and less superficial than she previously thought, but she can't yet find words with which to express her new thoughts. This being at a loss for words shows the start of her inner growth—she can no longer tie life up in a pretty ribbon, as if she understands it:
“No,” sobbed Laura. “It was simply marvellous. But Laurie—” She stopped, she looked at her brother. “Isn't life,” she stammered, “isn't life—” But what life was she couldn't explain.