The Garden Party: And Other Stories Questions and Answers
by Katherine Mansfield

The Garden Party: And Other Stories book cover
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Should the Sheridans have called off the garden party, as Laura suggested?

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No, the Sheridans should not have called off the garden party at the very last minute because someone they barely knew died. When Jose, Laura's older sister, says that Laura is being sentimental, she speaks the truth.

Sentimentality—sometimes called bathos—is false emotion, and this is what Laura is experiencing. She knows nothing about the working classes and is still feeding on a glow she experienced earlier in the day when she interacted with some workers briefly over party preparations. She decides, completely out of her head, that the the social classes are alike. This makes her feel good. When the man dies, Laura wants, based on false and overwrought feelings, to make a dramatic gesture of solidarity that affirms the humanity of the working classes—a solidarity she wants to feel but ultimately doesn't.

Of course, in reality, people don't cancel parties when people they don't know die, unless the circumstances are extraordinary. Laura, of course, is ironically showing the...

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