The Stolen Party Themes
The main themes in “The Stolen Party” are wealth and class barriers, a child’s sense of justice, and belonging to a group.
- Wealth and class barriers: Rosaura believes she is attending Liliana’s party as an equal but finds that she has been subtly excluded and categorized as a servant.
- A child’s sense of justice: Rosaura initially believes that her mother’s criticism of the wealthy Ines family is wrong, but she comes to face a much more acute injustice.
- Belonging to a group: The events of the party show the forces that influence group belonging.
Wealth and Class Barriers
It is revealed early in the story that Rosaura and Luciana, whom Rosaura regards as her friend, are from different social classes. Luciana’s family are rich, living in a large, luxurious house, which Rosaura’s mother cleans for them. Rosaura, whose point of view predominates throughout the narrative, seems barely aware of this class difference, and, in any case, thinks it unimportant. However, the reader is made increasingly aware as the story progresses that the other characters do not share her egalitarian perspective. First, her mother expresses discomfort with her daughter going to “a rich people’s party.” Then the blonde girl she meets at the party quizzes her about her background. Finally, it becomes apparent that Señora Ines regards her as a servant—rather than an invited guest on the same level as the other children.
Early on in the story, Rosaura asserts that there is no essential difference between the rich and the poor. She solemnly assures her mother that “Rich people go to Heaven too,” and she later thinks that it is unfair of her mother “to accuse other people of being liars simply because they were rich.” She wants to be rich herself and wonders whether her mother would stop loving her if she were to achieve this ambition.
The mounting evidence in the story that Rosaura’s mother is right to be guarded in her attitude towards her employers and their friends prepares the reader for the ending. This opens up a gap between the reader’s perception of the situation and the protagonist’s. Rosaura goes on being happy and excited, thinking only of how much she has enjoyed the party, until the last minute, when she recoils at being offered a servant’s wages. The barrier between rich and poor—which is apparent to her mother from the first and has slowly been revealing itself to the reader—suddenly looms over Rosaura, separating her from everyone except her mother, to whom she instinctively clings.
A Child’s Sense of Justice
Rosaura has an acute sense of right and wrong. At the beginning of the story, she feels that her mother is being unfair, both in discouraging Rosaura from attending the party and in distrusting Luciana’s family. Rosaura wants to be rich herself, but there is never any indication that she resents or necessarily envies the wealth of her friend. To do so would be unjust, since Luciana did not choose to be rich any more than Rosaura chose to be poor. It is the same principle that leads Rosaura to resent the blonde girl’s inquisitorial gatekeeping. When she later distributes cake to the other children, she gives the girl “a slice so thin one could see through it” and thinks this a just punishment for her unkindness.
This contrasts with what Rosaura sees as her own unjust punishment at the end of the story. She is proud of her helpfulness in handing out the food and drink, and she believes that she has been specially favored, as a close friend who knows the house better than the other children and who sees Luciana every day. When her mother comes to fetch her, she proudly says, “I was the best behaved at the party.” She thinks for an instant that she will be rewarded for her good behavior with two gifts instead of one. When, instead of a gift, she is offered money, which she...
(The entire section contains 974 words.)
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