Coming Of Age In Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party

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The Growth of a Laurel There is more to Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party” than meets the eye-it is not merely an account of a fête with fine china, sequined gowns and idle chatter. Contradictory to its lighthearted title, “The Garden Party” alludes to weighty themes such as social prejudice, isolation and change. The story centers around Laura Sheridan’s coming-of-age as she breaks away from societal norms of her bourgeois background. Her transition is at odds with her upper-status family, who chooses be blind to class distinctions. With Mr.Scott’s death, Laura’s realization amplifies into what propels her maturity and moral decency. In “The Garden Party,” Mansfield best conveys Laura’s sympathetic character through comparisons against…show more content…
With news of Mr.Scott’s death, Laura becomes hesitant to host the party, however, Mrs.Sheridan remarks on her daughter’s ridiculousness and absurdity. She states, “People like that don’t expect sacrifices from us” (Mansfields, 6), dismissing the need to be civil towards the low-class. It is not merely just that she refuses to express courtesy to the lower classes, but also that she believes it impossible of such people to possess expectations for the wealthy. Her mother’s impervious behavior stuns Laura and she becomes conflicted; where is the fine line between respect and power? In addition, Jose mindlessly assumes that Mr.Scott had been drunk and her insensitive comment visibly agitates Laura. Though she momentarily questions her sympathy when she catches sight of her “charming” (Mansfields, 6), lavishily beautiful self in the mirror, such doubts and reactions from Laura portray that, albeit young, she is affected by the blind eye her family turns to the lower-classes and that there is a conscious inside her. By elaborating on Mrs.Sheridan’s and Jose’s prejudice, Mansfield is successfully able to stress on Laura’s sympathetic…show more content…
The story ends on an ambiguous note when Laura fails to put her new-found knowledge into words. One can’t help but wonder if this experience will stay permanent or if it will be buried under societal prejudice later. Perhaps, this ambiguity is intended all along. From the start of the story, Laura is referred to as a flower, innocent and vulnerable. Whether if she will succumb and wither away or grow into a laurel is left to the
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