The Garden Party Summary
“They couldn’t have had a more perfect day for a lawn party if that they had ordered it “ (38). Warm, windless, without a cloud within the sky, Sheridan’s lawn party was expected to be an excellent success.
Still, at breakfast, Laura, Meg, Jose Sheridan, and their mother sat discussing arrangements for the party. Mrs. Sheridan declared she wasn’t getting to make one decision, an unfortunate announcement because the workmen had just received the front gate to place up the marquee. Meg couldn’t go outside to talk to them because her hair was wet. Jose wasn’t dressed. Laura was nominated and she or he practically flew out of the house in anticipation. She loved to rearrange things and felt she was better at it than everyone else.
With a bit of buttered toast in her hand, Laura met the workmen within the garden. Suddenly shy and conscious of how young she must look to the burly men she affected her mother’s high voice and asked if they might found out the marquee on the court where the band would be playing. She immediately regretted her words when one among the workmen sarcastically asked after the band. Embarrassed, Laura said it had been a little band but another of the workmen smiled and his easy and friendly nature put her comfortable. She took a bite of her toast.
The workmen decided the marquee would look best under the karakas trees and with none invitation from Laura they began . just one of the workmen remained behind, a tall man, he bent down and pinched a sprig of lavender from the garden and smelled it. Laura doubted any of the lads she knew, those she danced with or had over for Sunday dinner would have stopped what they were doing to enjoy the scent of lavender. She thought she would get on far better with the workmen than she would men of her class.
Someone from the house yelled to Laura that she had a call. Laura ran up the trail onto the veranda and into the house. There she met her father and brother, Laurie, preparing to travel to the office. She gave her brother a fast hug then answered her call. it had been her friend, Kitty Maitland. Only Laura’s end of the conversation was heard and she or he asked Kitty to return to lunch to eat leftovers of whatever Cook had made for the lawn party. Mrs. Sheridan yelled right down to Laura and told her to inform Kitty to wear an equivalent hat she wore last Sunday. Laura repeated her mother’s words and said goodbye to Kitty.
Returning the phone to its receiver, Laura sighed loudly and contently and listened to the gorgeous silence of the house. Then all directly the house came to life, the noise sounded from another room, the piano was being moved, the doorbell rang and Sadie, the maid, answered it. The florist had arrived with trays of pink lilies. initially, Laura assumed there had been an error within the sheer number of flowers that the florist had brought but Mrs. Sheridan assured her the order was correct. She had gone by the florist the opposite day and ordered extra lilies for the party as a treat for herself.
Meanwhile, within the drawing-room, Meg, Jose, and Han, their servant, had finally succeeded in moving the piano. Jose asked Hans to fetch her mother and Laura while she positioned herself at the piano. Jose hoped someone would ask her to sing at the party and wanted to practice. She sang a melancholy tune about life being weary and love that changes. When she was finished she declared herself in a good voice and nobody contradicted her.
Just then Sadie came in and asked Mrs. Sheridan for the small flags she had made for the sandwich trays to spot what they were made from so that Cook could start preparing for the party. After some confusion on where Mrs. Sheridan had left the flags, Laura brought them to the kitchen and she or he and Jose marveled over the fifteen different types of sandwiches Cook had prepared.
A delivery man came into the kitchen while the women were still there and brought during a tray of delicious cream puffs. While Laura and Jose ate two of the fluffy pastries they overheard the deliveryman telling Sadie and Cook about the terrible death of the man who lived down the lane. His horse had reared up while he was out riding and he had fallen, hit his head and died.
Everyone took the news in stride; they knew the person, Mr. Scott, and he and his impoverished wife and youngsters lived very accessible. Their home was a touch of an eyesore to the Sheridans. Their lawn suffering from cabbages, chickens, and old cans. They lived only a street aside from each other but were from two different worlds.
Although she didn’t know the Scott family well, if at all, Laura was deeply upset by the news. She told Jose that they had to call the party off. Jose told her that she was being stupid which nobody would expect them to cancel the lawn party simply because Mr. Scott died. Laura tried to appeal to her mother but Mrs. Sheridan was of an equivalent mind as Jose. To distract her daughter, Mrs. Sheridan put a replacement black velvet hat with a yellow daisy trim on Laura’s head but it had been no use. Laura stomped off into her room and shut the door.
She checked out herself within the mirror and she or he or he saw that the black velvet hat was gorgeous and she looked beautiful in it, but she was still confused. She wanted to enjoy the party but she social obligation to assist the Scotts but how? “You’re being very absurd, Laura…people like that don’t expect scarifies from us” (47) her mother had said but Laura pictured the body of Mr. Scott being carried into his home while his wife and youngsters looked on. the thought seemed so unreal, as if she were reading about within the newspaper, that Laura decided to stress about it later. There was nothing that she could do now anyway and therefore the party would soon start.
After lunch, the guests began to arrive including her friend Kitty Maitland. Laurie came home soon after and Laura ran to him to inform him about the accident but he complimented her hat and she or he forgot all about the Scotts for the remainder of the party. Guests came in droves, couples strolled the garden path, the band played, flowers were admired, sandwiches are eaten then it had been everywhere. The Sheridans were left alone again, at last.
In the empty marquee, Mr. Sheridan sat together with his wife and youngsters, eating another sandwich and telling them about Mr. Scott’s accident everywhere again. Mrs. Sheridan thought it had been very tactless of her husband, on the other hand, she had the brilliant idea of sending a basket of leftover food from the party to the Scotts. She told Laura to form up an outsized basket and convey it right down to the family.
Laura protested initially. She thought it might be rude to bring leftovers to the grieving Scotts but her mother insisted they might be very appreciative of any help at the instant. Mrs. Sheridan wanted to send lilies also but decided against it at the last moment.
Laura began down the lane and far away from her house and into the impoverished area of town where Scott’s lived. it had been hard to imagine anyone living there in the least but men bustled past and youngsters played in doorways, all of them appeared to be watching her and Laura felt a deep sense of shame for daring to wear her expensive lace dress and new hat amid such poverty.
A crowd had gathered outside of the Scott house and as Laura approached the group parted to let her in. Startled by their behavior and feeling very out of place, Laura hoped to go away the basket on the doorstep and run home but a lady came to the door and ushered her inside.
It was Mrs. Scott’s sister. She showed Laura into the kitchen were Mrs. Scott sat crying before the hearth, her face red and swollen. She seemed confused about why Laura was there with the basket in her beautiful lace dress. Laura put the basket down and turned to go away but Mrs. Scott’s sister insisted she sees the body and before Laura could protest she was within the back bedroom.
Mr. Scott seemed somehow more handsome in death than he had been in life. Laura was almost envious of the design contentment on his face, as if garden parties, baskets, and every one of life’s particularities were behind him. While the band had played and that they had all laughed and socialized at the party, this man laid like “a marvel,” she thought, just a road away. He seemed so happy and yet things were so grave that Laura felt she had to mention something. “Forgive my hat” (51) she mumbled and ran out the door.
She met Laurie coming down the lane and took his arm, pressing herself against him. Laurie was surprised to ascertain her crying. Laura said, “Isn’t life…” but couldn’t finish her thought. She repeated, “Isn’t life…” again; Laurie nodded and answered, “Isn’t it, darling?” (51).
The Garden Party Analysis
“The lawn party,” written by Mansfield, was published within the literary magazine the Weekly Westminster Gazette in February 1922 in an attempt to market the author’s larger story collection The lawn party and Other Stories published by Constable and Co., which prominently featured the titled story. In fact, “The Garden Party” is taken into account one among Mansfield’s best-known works, perhaps due to its autobiographical undertones.
The early twentieth-century setting for the story is loosely based upon Mansfield’s childhood range in Wellington, New Zealand. The Sheridans, just like the Beauchamps (Mansfield’s surname) were an upper bourgeoisie family with three daughters and a son. Laura Sheridan may be a parody of Mansfield as a young adult during her years as an idealistic if not naïve socialite before she left Wellington to attend England for school. The Sheridan siblings are named in mocking tribute to the beloved characters of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women published in 1880. The March sisters are named Meg, Jo (Josephine), Beth, and Amy. Laurie may be a good friend of the March family and later marries Amy. The Sheridan siblings are similarly named Meg, Jose, Laura, and Laurie. Note the symmetry in name only and demeanor of Laura and her brother, Laurie. Like her literary counterpart, Jo March, Laura Sheridan questions her place within the world and particularly within her family.
In “The lawn party,” Mansfield, a modernist, experimented with the utilization of person narration from Laura’s point of view, allowing the reader simultaneous insight into the protagonist’s thoughts while observing her actions. Noted for her frequent use of internal monologue, a literary device that expresses the thoughts of a personality, Mansfield allows for in-depth observation of Laura’s perspective as her story unfolds. Mrs. Sheridan and Jose’s points of view briefly interrupt Laura’s dominant perspective but are employed by Mansfield to stress the story’s ambiance instead of offer counter-perspectives to Laura’s viewpoint. Mansfield’s preference for the feminine perspective was unique for her period as is that the lack of structure in “The lawn party .”The story is told throughout a couple of hours with no set beginning or traditional character introductions. Instead, Mansfield begins her story in medias res or within the middle, allowing the character’s histories to unfold because the story progresses. Specializing in realism, Mansfield, like her contemporaries, preferred to focus the core of her plot on one moment in time, illustrating how small events, like a garden party, can influence a character’s perspective with life alternating results. Laura Sheridan’s worldview is similarly shaken by the death of her neighbor, Mr. Scott, which causes her to reevaluate her thoughts on class relations in response to her family’s stance on the topic.
Laura’s walk to the Scotts, her shame at wearing her best clothes and a replacement hat amid such depraved conditions may be a brutal awakening to her psyche. She wants to escape, to return to her kind but is formed to enter not only the house of the Scotts but to ascertain Mr. Scott’s body laid call at the rear bedroom. Death, a reoccurring theme in Mansfield’s work, often acts as a catalyst, prompting other characters to revaluate their own lives. faithful form, Laura has an epiphany of sorts while watching Mr. Scott’s peaceful face. She sees herself as she truly is: frivolous, naïve, and wonton. She feels a deep sense of shame for having come to the Scott house dressed as she is and therefore the only comfort she will provide is leftover food. For a quick moment Laura is envious of Mr. Scott, he has escaped society’s expectations and is answerable to nobody. “Forgive my hat” (51), she remarks before leaving, her comment reflective of her thoughts. She runs faraway from the Scotts, faraway from the poverty and suffering that she will not ignore and meets her brother, Laurie, who had come to seem for her. Crying, Laura tries to precise herself but can’t. Mansfield ends the text with Laura asking, “Isn’t life…” and Laurie replying “Isn’t it, darling?” (51).
Emphasizing her modernistic roots, Mansfield purposely named these characters to denote similarities in their demeanor, the male and feminine version of an equivalent person, although she gives preference to the feminine perspective. Note the symmetry in their responses and yet the divide between them. Laura has returned from the Scotts a special person, her brother has not had such an experience (that we all know of), and although they’re saying an equivalent thing, neither knows or understands the thoughts of the opposite. From a bigger perspective the Sheridans and therefore, therefore, the Scotts and the social classes they represent, can never truly understand the point of view of the opposite if they continue to be unaware of each other’s lifestyles. Noted for her ambiguous endings, Mansfield intentionally closes ”The Garden Party” with a dissatisfying conclusion to permit room for the reader’s interpretation of events to return.