Should the Sheridans have called off the garden party, as Laura suggested?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This becomes one of the fundamental issues in Mansfield's short story.  On one hand, Jose's words are haunting to this point:  "She [Jose] takes a dim view of Laura's wish to cancel the garden party when she tells Laura that she 'won't bring a drunken workman back to life by being sentimental." The mother is much the same, in that she allows her daughters to plan the garden party, but does everything in her power to ensure its facilitation.  In the end, the cancellation of the party would have done little. However, I think that Mansfield is bringing out the emergence of different narratives in contrasting the garden party and the lives of the Sheridans with the reality that surrounds them.  The presence of working class people, those who lack the resouces that the Sheridans possess, as well as the idea that what was once told to be right might not actually be entirely accurate are all a part of the journey that Laura commences.  To a great extent, the reader in unclear as to where Laura stands on this issue, yet there is an  understanding that Laura has experienced something that might prompt future change as her perception of the world has been expanded.  If one believes in the ability to listen and to heed the cries of others' suffering, then one should advocate calling off the garden party, if nothing else to show solidarity with another group enduring pain.  Whether or not Laura fully understands this is one issue.  Yet, Mansfield presents this situation to the reader so that they might be able to more clearly articulate a position upon which both the Sheridans and Laura possess obscurity.

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The Garden Party: And Other Stories

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