"The Garden Party" is the story of Laura and her family, a wealthy family who live at the top of the hill, who are planning to have a lovely garden party. The start of the story tells of the preparations, including discussions of things like, the food, the flowers and the clothing everyone plans to wear -- especially things like hats.
During the morning they hear the news that a poor man from down the street, who lives in the poorer part of the village at the bottom of the hill has been killed in an accident. Laura is young (teens) and very unset and thinks the family should cancel their party, but the Mom explains the foolishness of such thinking, after all, what are they to us? They are worlds apart. Laura is pretty quickly convinced that the party should go on, especially when she sees her beautiful new party hat.
After the party, the memory of the dead man creeps back, and the Mother suggests that Laura bring some of the left-over party food as a gift basket for the family of the dead man. Laura is uncomfortable on the journey down the lane, but knocks on the door and is ushered in. She is at first uncomfortable with the idea of looking at the dead man who has been laid out on the table, but once she gathers and courage and comes closer, she comes to an interesting observation. She says something to the affect that the man is lucky and beautiful in death. She is realizing that death is a release from the pain and suffering of this mortal life, and that death isn't a bad, scary thing. She leaves the house with a much more mature understanding and life and death, and is so caught up in the idea that she can't even find the words to articulate it to her brother who has come down to check up on her and walk her home.
It is a rich and multi-layered story filled with symbolism and irony!