The Garden Party: And Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

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What does "The Garden Party" signify?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"The Garden Party" signifies how vast the gulf is between the social classes in the Edwardian time period and how difficult it is to bridge the gap, even when the individuals in question live very close to each other.

When the story opens, the lead character, Laura Sheridan, speaks to the workers helping to set up for the afternoon's garden party and thinks how little difference there is between her and them. She dismisses class difference as exaggerated. Later, when a neighboring worker is killed, she wants her family to cancel the garden party out of respect for the dead man. Her family,...

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tahiya | Student

''The Garden Party'' by Katherine Mansfield is a story about a young girl belonging to the higher class society and her new realization towards life. Throughout the story she becomes more matured and develops a new and clearer idea about life. There are some symbols used in the story to signify class distinction such as in the first paragraph in the story there is a line,''As for roses..........................the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing.'' Rose is a common flower and it is more available than any other expensive flower. Only this flower generously divides its beauty and fragrance for everyone,whether that everyone is rich or poor. The karakas tree is another important symbol as it signifies isolation. From childhood the Sheridan children were taught sophisticated norms and manners,so they were not allowed to play with the children living in the cottages. their parents had the idea that their elite attitude will be diminished if they become friends with them. Like karakas tree the Sheridan children were lonely in their perfect little world. The hat that Laura wears makes her conscience moving back and forth in deciding to be swayed by her family's harsh ignorance towards humanity or not. The'' broad way'' Laura passes in order to go to the Scott's house is like an entrance into real world from her world of fake perfection. And at the end the end of the story she realizes that life is wonderful and class distinction does not work everywhere. When the night falls it is equally dark for everyone. The garden party shows the public display of aristocracy of the privileged people.In the story Laura is a bit alienated in her family as her thoughts are different and always searching for something. Also her approach towards the average people is different. The only person she seems to have a connection with is her brother Laurie. But throughout the story Laurie talks only with Laura and not with anyone else. Then may be Laurie is Laura's imagination.

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