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The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield


TheGarden Party by Katherine Mansfield

TheGarden Party by Katherine Mansfield: Laura’s Character Evaluation

Thedeath of the neighbor marks the turning point of Laura. The youngteenager must find her identity in the surrounding society of chaos,and this turning point marks her transition from childhood toadulthood. Laura is encountered by circumstances that spark anevolutionary journey out of her fantasy world into the real world.Laura is inflamed by her oddity and knowledge of absence ofdevelopment and starts to look for identity from outside herself.Laura is exposed to the suffering and darkness of the world of theworld of her poor neighbors when she brings them food that remainedafter the party in their court. She is baffled by poverty and anguishof those that are not in the same social class as her family.

Thefamily’s annual garden party happens at the same time and day asthe death of a local working class man. Laura immediate reaction isthat the family should abandon the party in respect to the departedsoul, a notion that is not shared by other members of her family. Thestory is beginning, and one can sense the girl’s stance on lifewhich is modulated by the intrusion of this harsh reality. The partygoes on as planned, but Laura calms herself by wearing a special hat.

Thesocial class of Laura’s family gives her confidence and courage tosupervise the workmen who have been employed to prepare the marquee.When her mother assigns her that duty, she accepts it withoutquestions since she felt she could do it better than anybody else. Ashort interaction with workmen makes Laura realize that they knowbetter than she does, and her discomfort with the privileges of hersocial class. When one of the workmen picks a sprig of lavender adsniffs its fragrance, Laura immediately realizes that beauty andappreciation are valuable things to all living human beings. Hermindset that such things are only a preserve of the affluent isslowly fading.

Slowlybut steadily Laura is wiping out her delusions about the workingclass and the poor in the society. Evidently, this is what creates agood rapport between her and the workmen. She is also able tosuccessfully give orders to the family servants. Laura misconceptionsabout the poor have collapsed and her moment of artistic empathyensues. Laura has believed in contentment that happens in deathreflects her emotional maturity and adolescent awakening. Herimaginative power that comes after watching the dead man enables herto conquer class differences and realize that life and death maycoexist beautifully in the world. From a naïve though sensitivecharacter, Laura grows into a sincere and positive minded person.

Atthe end of the story, Laura can react to environmental influences ina way that is unique to her individual personality, rather thanfollowing what the members her social class believes is appropriate.Laura has become more sensitive to the plights of her poor neighborsand strongly feels that the garden party should not proceed. She evenfears that the neighbors are going to hear the band at the partywhile they are moaning. The confidence and courage that emanated fromthe perception that she was better than the poor workmen is lost. Allthrough the whole story the pendulum of her conscience swings toconverse sides, making her conduct inconsistent and devoid of astandard pattern that can define her identity.


Mansfield,K.(1921). TheGarden Party. Katherine Mansfield Society.Retrieved from: