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Analysis of Katherine Mansfield's - the Garden Party

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Analysis of Katherine Mansfield's "The Garden Party"

Surrounded by perfection in a garden of her own creation, Mansfield spins a tale that

seems to be taken from the pages of her own life. She draws from her own personal experience

as the daughter of a prominent and wealthy businessman, to create a setting that is symbolic of a

carefree life, filled with parties, flowers, and plenty of sunshine! It is in this setting that the

reader witnesses the journey of a young girl as she matures and evaluates her place in society.

This journey is accompanied by an inward struggle to understand life and death, and a realization

of the class lines that separate people along the path. In "The Garden Party," Katherine

Mansfield uses irony, imagery, and symbolism to illustrate the journey taken to gain meaning

about life and death, and the role that social class plays in this revelation.

The central character of the short story, Laura Sheridan, takes the reader along on her

journey. She discovers death, while at the same time trying to make sense of life. While the

the story's primary focus is placed on Laura's struggle to grow up, Mansfield uses these growing

pains to highlight the differing views held by the Sheridan's concerning social classes (Cahill

59-75). Laura enjoys a privileged life, much like that of Miss Mansfield in real life. The author's

style of writing provides the reader with a glimpse into what the life of the upper class is really

like. Her detailed descriptions also provides the reader with a look at what life is like for those

less fortunate. It is because of her talent and ability to deliver stories with this kind of detail and

impact, that Miss Mansfield's work has been recognized as being among the best writers of

fiction. Her work displayed in "The Garden Party" is thought by many to be one of the most

perfect short stories written to date. (Klein 360-371)

"Emphasizing the gulf between the rich and the poor is the descriptive language of the

story" (Satterfield 68-70). A prevailing theme throughout the story is the contrast between the

two worlds that is examined closely after the death of the carter. While the garden setting is filled

with images that are light, fragrant, and fresh, the village at the bottom of the hill is the picture of

dreariness that is symbolized by darkness and gloom. When Laura goes to the village to pay her

respects, the path is described with increasing darkness as she moves away from her home and

gets closer to the home of the carter. Narrow passageways are smoky, with shadowy figures




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