The Garden Party: And Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

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How does Katherine Mansfield depict the distinction between upper class and lower class people in "The Garden Party?"

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The story illustrates the sharp power differential between the English social classes. The Sheridans live in a fine house, have servants, and can afford to spend money on beautiful clothes, hats, and such frivolities as a large number of lilies from the florist shop:

There, just inside the door, stood a wide, shallow tray full of pots of pink lilies. No other kind. Nothing but lilies radiant, almost frighteningly alive on bright crimson stems.

For the Sheridans, life is a gracious and beautiful experience. The lower-class people, in contrast, live in shabby homes:

. . . the little cottages were in a lane to the bottom of a steep rise that led up to the house. A broad road ran between. True, they were far too near. They were the greatest possible eyesore, and they had no right to be in that neighbourhood at all. They were little mean dwellings garden patches there was nothing but cabbage stalks, sick hens and tomato cans . . .

The Sheridan children are forbidden to go there when young, for...

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