Prelude; and At the Bay Questions and Answers
by Katherine Mansfield

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In "Prelude" by Katherine Mansfield, what is so significant about the "aloe" in the story?

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The aloe in Mansfield’s short story “Prelude,” first published in 1918, has dual significance. It first appears in section 6 and again in section 11. To understand its significance, you must first understand Linda’s point of view in the story. Linda is essentially forced to move six miles away from her home in the town to a house that her husband, Stanley, bought in the country for a good price. From the context of the story, we know that Linda is unhappy living in the country. The aloe signifies two ways in which Linda views her life.

In section 6, Mansfield describes the huge aloe as being set apart from the garden, alone on an island of land dividing the home’s driveway. The aloe has “thick, grey-green, thorny leaves.” Some of the leaves “were so old that they curled up in the air no longer.” Rather, they “turned back, they were split and broken...flat and withered on the ground.”

When Linda’s daughter, Kezia, stumbles upon the strange-looking aloe plant while...

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