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

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What is an important theme in "The Garden Party" by Katherine Mansfield?

An important theme in “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield is death as the great leveler. Although the upper-crust Laura is initially separated from her working-class neighbors, the experience of seeing one of them dead momentarily brings them together, breaking down class barriers.

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Death is the great leveler. Whoever we are, wherever we live, however much money we have or don’t have, we will one day leave this earth behind. In death, there are no class distinctions, no artificial differences between race, gender, and class. Death is the ultimate, perhaps the only true, democracy.

The notion of death as the great leveler is much in evidence in Mansfield’s “The Garden Party”. Here, the death of one of Laura’s working-class neighbors momentarily serves to break down the class barriers between them. What had been thought to be an insuperable barrier between Laura’s upper-crust family and her down-at-heel neighbors has shown to be wholly artificial, and therefore capable of being broken down by a shared experience, the experience of death.

To be sure, Laura’s experience of her neighbor’s death might not be the same as that of the dead man’s family, but it does nonetheless serve to establish some kind of connection between them, something that had never...

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