Where and what is the climax of "The Garden Party" by Katherine Mansfield?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A narrative climax can be an action-packed dramatic event, a quietly decisive event, a heightened emotional event, or a subtle psychological event. In addition, in short stories, the climax is often very close to the falling action and resolution, as is particularly noticeable in stories with surprise endings. Since all this is so, the climax of a story can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint. It is useful to think of the climax as the moment at which the resolution is predicted, the moment at which choices are restricted to the one remaining course of developments.

In "The Garden Party," the emotional and psychological climax to Laura's journey through her entrance into the realities of life beyond the garden occurs when she has been examining the young man's body and marveling over how peaceful and restful his lifeless body seems. During this experience, Laura has an awakening of understanding that leads her to exclaim "Forgive my hat." It is during this moment of awakening, this epiphany, this moment that leads her to be ashamed of frivolity and vanity in the face of life and death, that the climax occurs.

It is both an emotive and a psychological climax. Her narrated awakening and exclamation show that the ambiguity is gone, she has made her decisions about reality and other options for the course of developments are closed. she has been changed. The falling action and resolution occur as she leaves, meets her brother on the lane and tries to articulate her experience. She only articulates enough to say, "isn't life--," but he understands enough to agree, which is the resolution.

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

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