The Garden Party Essay

1035 words - 5 pages

“The Garden Party”
“The Garden Party”, written by Katherine Mansfield, is a short story, which takes place in colonial New Zealand. The main character, Laura, encounters a life-changing situation where she is face to face with a symbolic view of life and death. The most significant object in the story, which is very symbolic, is the fancy black hat trimmed with gold daisies, and a long black velvet ribbon. Mansfield uses the hat in “The Garden Party” as an object that dictates the fate of the party, as well as a symbol of wealth, vanity and class discrepancy, which adds to the whole stories theme of illusion versus reality.
The hat has a large part in this story, in the sense that it is ...view middle of the document...

If Laura was not wearing the hat, then Laurie would not have complimented her on it. Then, she may have asked Laurie if he thought they should still throw the party, considering the party. If he agreed with Laura, then the party may have been canceled because Laura would not have felt like the only one to feel heartless. Even during the party, Laura had been getting compliments on the hat such as: “Laura, you look quite Spanish. I’ve never seen you look so striking”, and, “What a becoming hat, child!” (Mansfield 257). With those compliments, Laura glows and the narrator describes how the afternoon was perfect. Had Laura not been complimented on her hat, again, the party would not have turned out the way it did, which was very delightful. You could say that the hat had saved the garden party; by being the reason the party was not canceled. But, there is a much more symbolic meaning to the hat.
On a more symbolic note, the hat represented class discrepancy. The hat Laura wore symbolized wealth and vanity; as opposed to the hat the workers wore symbolized blue-collar and lower class. In the beginning of the story, the workers that come to set up the marquee are viewed as blue-collar. They come into play when the narrator describes the worker as, “…a lanky, freckled fellow, and he shifted his tool-bag, knocked back his straw hat and smiled down at her” (Mansfield 246). The workers hat is no fancy, decorated piece of art like Laura’s is. However, what low class citizen would ever wear something so valuable and luxurious? Laura would wear a beautiful and fancy hat because, well, she is of course of the upper class and is of more importance than lower class citizens; which the Sheridan family describes the neighbors. This is displayed when the mother answers Laura’s question of whether or not they should...

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