The Garden Party

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Themes
Growth
.......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: The First

.......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. The Second

.......News of the fatal accident prompts Laura to suggest cancellation of the garden party out of respect for the grieving family. However, upon seeing how smart she looks in the hat her mother gives her, she agrees with her mother and Jose that it would be absurd to call off the party. After the festivities end and the family members gather in the marquee for coffee, Mr. Sheridan broaches the subject of the fatal accident, saying how horrible it must be for the wife and children to cope. The family goes silent. Laura thinks, “Really it was very tactless of father . . . ,” but does not finish her thought. Her mother then decides to send a basket of uneaten sandwiches and pastries down to the Scotts. Whether she sincerely wants to help–or simply wishes to get rid of the leftovers or assuage a feeling of guilt about...
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