Point of View in “The Garden-Party”
“The Garden-Party” by Katherine Mansfield can easily be classified as a coming of age tale for the main character and narrator, Laura Sheridan. The ending of the story leaves the reader with many more questions than answers. This is mainly because Laura herself is unable to put into words what she has learned from her new experience with death. “She stopped, she looked at her brother. ‘Isn’t life,’ she stammered, ‘Isn’t life –’ But what life was she couldn’t explain” (Daley 218). As a reader, it is hard to come to any sort of conclusion about what she took away from the experience because the author gives us such an ambiguous response which to base the entire story off of. Mansfield’s creatively constructed conclusion leaves room for interpretation from the reader as to what Laura will learn from this experience and what her ultimate outcome will be.
Laura’s struggle within herself is apparent from the beginning of the story. She is seen by readers as being very different from the rest of her family and seems to struggle with being herself and conforming to the norms of her class like the rest of the family appears to be doing. “But Meg could not possibly go and supervise the men. She had washed her hair before breakfast, and she sat drinking her coffee in a green turban, with a dark wet curl stamped on each cheek. Jose, the butterfly, always came down in a silk petticoat and a kimono jacket” (Daley 206). Laura’s sisters are completely self-absorbed and their primary focus is on their outward appearance which most likely was a learned trait from their own mother. Laura does however give in to a few social norms throughout the work, but finds the outcome to be quite dissatisfying. “‘Good morning,’ she said, copying her mother’s voice. But that sounded so fearfully affected that she was ashamed, and stammered like a little girl…” (Daley 207). Laura tries to mimic her mother’s voice that she used when speaking with her...
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