The Garden Party Analysis
"The Garden Party" is a 1922 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in the Saturday Westminster Gazette on 4 February 1922, then in the Weekly Westminster Gazette on 18 February 1922. It later appeared in The Garden Party: and Other Stories. Its luxurious setting is based on Mansfield's childhood home at Tinakori Road, Wellington.
The Sheridan family is preparing to host a garden party. Laura is supposed to be in charge but has trouble with the workers who appear to know better, and her mother (Mrs. Sheridan) has ordered lilies to be delivered for the party without Laura's approval. Her sister Jose tests the piano, and then sings a song in case she is asked to do so again later. After …show more content…
Her father, a prosperous banker, supported her move with a generous financial allotment.
On the grounds of the Sheridan home, beautiful flowers grow. One of them is Laura, a pretty teenager rooted in the traditions of her privileged family. Whether she flourishes depends on whether she can accept and understand the world beyond the Sheridan family’s garden paradise. Two developments, one minor and one major, suggest that Laura can do so and thereby grow into a mature adult. These are as follows:
When four workmen enter the grounds to set up the marquee for the garden party, Laura approves of their smiling faces. But after she suggests placing the marquee on the lily lawn, a workman rejects the idea, saying that she should the marquee “where it’ll give you a bang slap in the eye.” Laura then wonders whether it is respectful of a laborer to speak to a girl of her upbringing in the crude language of the common people. However, Laura ends up approving of the men even though they are the ones who choose the location for the marquee–against the karaka trees. Thus, though failing to supervise the men with authority, Laura learns to overlook class distinctions in dealing with the outside world.
News of the fatal accident prompts Laura to suggest