Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Much influenced by the short-story writing of Anton Chekhov, Mansfield wrote stories that are psychologically accurate and convincing. She understood life’s ironies and the small personal tragedies that accompany them. She had a substantial grasp of the social milieu in which she and many other artists lived during the first quarter of the twentieth century in England.

This story is particularly strong in its use of physical detail, especially toward the beginning when William is in the first-class smoking compartment of the train departing for what he hopes will be a relaxing weekend with his family. He takes work with him, expecting to get it done in the relative quiet of his home. Mansfield depicts in considerable detail William’s leaving London. A red-faced girl runs along beside the train carriages, waving and calling desperately. A greasy workman at the end of the platform smiles as the train passes him.

William settles in, thinking to himself that it is a filthy life. He needs the spiritual cleansing that the raindrops from the rose petals once gave him. William has grown up. He is no longer a boy, but rather a father and husband, a man with responsibilities that have stripped him of the romance in his life.

Mansfield skillfully juxtaposes William to Isabel’s friends, irresponsible spongers who have preserved the romance in their lives. They are antipodal to William who, in some ways, comes off as the heavy, although not as an unsympathetic heavy. Mansfield tells the story from William’s point of view. We can only guess how Isabel feels about his weekend visits, which, after all, interrupt her social life.

Isabel and her friends are frivolous. The friends hang on while it is pleasant and profitable for them to do so. It is not Isabel who has attracted them but rather what she can offer them materially. In his letter to Isabel, William offers her the freedom to continue the shallow existence she has created for herself.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Postwar Art
After the devastation of World War I, in which millions of people died, artists expressed their disillusionment with...

(The entire section is 611 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Point of View and Narration
‘‘Marriage á la Mode’’ is told primarily from William’s point of view, but the story does...

(The entire section is 694 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Mansfield's fiction is justly celebrated for its technical sophistication, particularly in terms of her subtle manipulation of...

(The entire section is 1468 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Mansfield is a writer of great subtlety whose stories generally reward the reader who pays careful attention to detail. Some of the questions...

(The entire section is 397 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Katherine Mansfield was both blessed and cursed with a distinctive insider/outsider perspective on some of the social, intellectual, and...

(The entire section is 377 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1920s: London’s population is around 7.4 million. 1990s: London’s population is around 7.0 million.


(The entire section is 198 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Read one of Virginia Woolf’s short stories, such as ‘‘The New Dress,’’ and compare her style and the feelings she evokes to...

(The entire section is 277 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Katherine Mansfield's fiction is routinely linked with that of the Russian short-story writer and playwright Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), whose...

(The entire section is 357 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Mansfield published three collections during her short life. In a German Pension (1911) gathers her earliest stories, largely...

(The entire section is 279 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Bliss’’ by Katherine Mansfield, published a year earlier than ‘‘Marriage á la Mode,’’ is one of the author’s most...

(The entire section is 205 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Aiken, Conrad, Review of The Garden Party, and Other Stories, in Freeman, June 21, 1922, p. 357.


(The entire section is 304 words.)