What are the life lessons that we can learn by this story, "The Garden Party"?

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dmcgillem eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Garden Party," the short story by Katherine Mansfield, the are presented with a stunning contrast:  the wealthy, carefree family to which the main character, Laura, belongs, and the poverty-stricken dwellings that exist just outside of the Sheridan's world.  The biggest life lesson, I feel, that we the reader can take from "The Garden Party" has to do with the fragility of life and how we cannot shield ourselves from death - the great equalizer.  Despite creating an oasis of privelege, the Sheridan's family is nonetheless touched by death two separate times during their "perfect" day - once when word first comes that a man has died, and again after the garden party when Mr. Sheridan mentions the incident.  No environment can conceal us from the impact of death.  Later, when Laura takes the basket of leftovers to the grieving family, she is struck by the environment into which she has emerged and the appearance of the people, yet marvels over how beautiful and peaceful the man looks in death when she views the corpse.  When the circumstances of life are removed, the cares and day-to-day drudgeries, the beauty of the person is free to shine in death.

Read the study guide:
The Garden Party: And Other Stories

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