There are fifteen stories in all in this collection, which, to me, represent everything between a 2. To mention a few: The Garden Party takes a look at the privileged life of the upper classes and their superficiality and sets it, jarringly, against a fatal accident which reminded me of Mrs. The Daughters of the Late Colonel is my favourite in this collection.
I first read it at uni many years ago and still find it utterly brilliant. Mansfield weaves a special kind of magic here in how she shows the dread felt by two spinsters at the death of their father while simultaneously, tragically even, illustrating how they feel a kind of Stockholm syndrome and cannot escape their own sense of confinement even when freedom is right under their nose. Again, I was reminded of Woolf, this time her short story The Legacy , which also deals in mutual alienation and treachery. Some of the other stories felt a bit tepid to me and tried my patience.
When she is at her best, however, she seems to take her readers for a ride. The characters take on a life of their own, revealing all through their internal monologues and dialogues, often baffling us. Subtle, strange, impressionistic, her short stories were an absolutely unique contribution to the genre. It was time for me to revisit the work of my favourite New Zealand author, Katherine Mansfield.
KM wrote the way an Impressionist painter painted -with deft paint strokes she painted her world. Plagued with ill health, her life was cut tragically short, dying at Fountainbleau when aged only This collection of short stories,published just before her death, contain some of her finest work. One of the stories set in NZ with a fictionalised version of KMs family.
Crescent Beach is Days Bay. She didn't live with the family though hide spoiler ] The notes with my Penguin give the setting as Karori, but it definitely isn't. Karori is an inland suburb. KM handles multiple POV effortlessly. I liked the impressionist style and lack of plot. Probably a little long. A child's bewilderment at her world is beautifully realised.
Possibly some symbolism by Mansfield as a poverty stricken New Zealander living in England but not really fitting in in British society? Maybe needed to be fleshed out a bit more. A young girl with all the affectations of a modern teen view spoiler [ but she has every right to be annoyed! What a careless mother! By far the weakest for me! After the first time I felt like I had missed something. A tale of smothering possessiveness. Bank Holiday Mansfield at her most Impressionist.
KM captures the dialogue so beautifully. I read some Katherine Mansfield during my year of reading Oceania, since she is from New Zealand, and knew I needed to read more.
This set of stories is from the end of her life, the same era as the years right after the first world war. The endings are often obscure, and would make for great discussion in a group. Another element of Mansfield's stories that I really like is that the NZ landscape is always present. The first story, "At the Bay," really highlights this on a coastal sheep farm wher I read some Katherine Mansfield during my year of reading Oceania, since she is from New Zealand, and knew I needed to read more.
The first story, "At the Bay," really highlights this on a coastal sheep farm where more is going on than just a few sheep! Dove" might be the most realistic love story I've read or is it? I suppose the trick to Mansfield is that she is never writing about what it appears she is at first, and the joy is in the discovery.
I received an advance copy of this new edition from the publisher through Edelweiss, although these stories had previously been published. Oh, Katherine Mansfield, where have you been all my life? I'm no expert on this type of writing, but I know beautiful stuff when I read it. With 15 stories crammed into this small volume, I felt immensely involved with the characters of all of them. To me, none of the stories had a real beginning, nor end. It was as though you were just plopped into a certain character's life on just any old day and were observing them.
You witnessed their emotions, listened to their thoughts and sometimes observ Oh, Katherine Mansfield, where have you been all my life? You witnessed their emotions, listened to their thoughts and sometimes observed them making a life altering decision. My favorites from this collection were: Most of the stories dealt with women.
You saw some of them go out into the world for the first time, but the characters that affected me most were the ones with the sad stories. Miss Brill, for example, who has formed this imaginary world around her, feeling that she is needed and has formed imaginary connections with strangers. When she overhears a comment by a young couple, she is snapped into the reality that she isn't needed, but is immensely lonely.
In The Lady's Maid you witness a woman giving up true happiness because of her connection with her mistress. It is sad, seeing these women when they suddenly witness where they are with their lives. It's blasphemy that Mansfield isn't as celebrated as other writers from her era such as Woolf and T. Her work should be more revered than it is. May 04, Hadrian rated it really liked it Shelves: Instead they seem more like impressionistic scenes. They're short descriptions of events with a keen eye on personal detail as a substitute for long exposition.
One of these 'stories' is a depiction of a country market, with stands of stacked curiosities and yawping salesmen. But there are some stories which are little more than conversations or days in a family's life. She does not tell you whether a c 'Short stories' doesn't seem like the right word for this collection. She does not tell you whether a character is arrogant or what their background is, you pick it out from the words they use, the clothes they wear, what they think.
She does not always say where a story is, but instead leaves you to find it - like how some characters refer to the 'bush' as the wilderness. There's a heavy current of nostalgia here - Mansfield speaks fondly of the scenes in New Zealand. But that nostalgia is not pleasant either, as Mansfield can be an unsettled and melancholy author.
She talks about uncomfortable reminders of personal mortality - like a passenger dying on a cruise ship - or even something which people fear almost as much, being made fun of behind our backs. In this way, she makes the stories personal, unnerving, and something to remember. Katherine Mansfield's writing is very sharp. She is extremely attuned to human nature, to the pitfalls and pressures of society and its standards. In her stories there is almost always something left unsaid, an elephant in the room, that only the reader can see—or that the characters are unwilling to acknowledge.
That being said, some of the stories did feel a bit lacking for me. It took me a while to adjust to her storytelling, which meant quite a few stories left me scratching my head. But whe Katherine Mansfield's writing is very sharp. But when they clicked, they were really good. It's a shame she isn't taught in high schools maybe she is but not widely because she's easy to read and her stories would provide lots to discuss. John Cheever and Shirley Jackson fans, people interested in early twentieth century upper crust life.
Recommended to Betsy by: Katherine Mansfield lived from to , but she would have been revolutionary in any era, and she is an obvious predecessor to John Cheever and Shirley Jackson in their tradition of exposing the underbelly of families and working men. This collection of fifteen stories and sketches illustrates class differences and tensions in s—'20s Europe, and Mansfield manages to straddle the shallowness culturally required of women in the time and what lies underneath it.
Don't read the preface unt Katherine Mansfield lived from to , but she would have been revolutionary in any era, and she is an obvious predecessor to John Cheever and Shirley Jackson in their tradition of exposing the underbelly of families and working men. Don't read the preface until after you read the whole book—it reveals stories' endings. I enjoyed the free-flying nature of the writing. The title story is the real tour de force, but the whole book is worth reading—particularly if you are interested in the early twentieth century upper-crust sound and customs.
Here are briefs, written as I finished each story. At the Bay is a cinematic yet microscopic trip from early morning to night in the lives of several families living in a small beach town probably in New Zealand, unlike the other stories' European locales The writing is free in the best sense.
Unbounded, it flows from reality to fantasies, ripping off facades and showing a more real reality. Although this was written in the early s, the writing is experimentally bold and the people are familiar in any century—because both writing and people are honest. The Garden Party moves like a locomotive, not even pausing as pretensions collide with truth and shatter. Young Laura stands at the apex between the willfully shallow concerns of her upper class garden-party-hosting family and her own awareness of the unfairness of class divides. This is a stunning story. It urgently expresses all the well-honed shallowness endemic to denial of other people's pain, the seductiveness of privilege even as it requires you to deny what you know is true and fair, the self-congratulatory nature of this realization and concurrent superiority complex, the crash of that superior pretension when it encounters authentic devastation, and finally the chaos of being aware of the whole messy drama.
This is a story of the s but it has something to say about any era. In the space of a few pages, Mansfield writes an epic. And this is because of her daring leaps—in time, thoughts, and action—trusting the reader to stay with her, and we do. This is the opposite of Women's Fiction: Two flibbertigibbet sisters cope after the death of their father, and the way profound concerns about life and meaning surface is wonderful. Dove is a mating ritual of manners. The Young Girl is kind of a character study of an angry seventeen-year-old upper-class British girl on a holiday in France in the s.
I don't know if I'm reading this into the story, but it seems to me to express the frustration women secretly felt in the customs and expressions that feel like being trapped in a corset. Life of Ma Parker, the hopeless story of cleaning woman with a very hard life, could be hard to follow, but by the time I got to this place in the book, I'd become accustomed to the style and transitions. Marriage a la Mode broke my heart. The Voyage evokes all the feelings of leaving home for somewhere new and unknown, from a child's eye view. Miss Brill is a story that people watchers will relate to.
Since I am one, I think it's brilliant. Her First Ball is a time travel trip for the reader and the protagonist. If I ever wanted a firsthand nitty gritty experience of a ball in the early twentieth century, this was it. But not only did it transport me to a new experience, but within the story, the protagonist is further transported to her own old age. The Singing Lesson is an emotional roller coaster ride that a lot of co-dependent women will relate to.
But the genius of it is how Mansfield exposes the fickleness of it. That it should end on a positive note for the protagonist indicates her complete disconnection from true emotional reality. The Stranger again shows the collision of obsession and manners with real feeling. Bank Holiday is a word painting, not a story. Like a camera, Mansfield pans around crowds enjoying a holiday in England somewhere and zooms in and vividly describes each scene. The writing is so good you can taste it. An Ideal Family , the story of old Mr. Neave in his "perfect family," evokes the work of Mansfield's successors, John Cheever and Shirley Jackson.
It's a description of family life that exposes what's hidden. The Lady's Maid is a character sketch of a servant in the form of a monologue. This is good enough to work as an actor's monologue. It begs to be performed. View all 11 comments. Mar 05, Roman Clodia rated it really liked it. I somehow hadn't read Mansfield before, confusing her in my head with Elizabeth Bowen From this book of short stories, she's a writer interested in small but illuminating moments in a life: There are places where Mansfield is very visual in her style, almost as if she's looking at a painting by someone like Renoir and penetrating beneath the surface to tell the stories under the paint.
At others, she concentrates on the tensions between how people, often women, look and behave socially and what is running through their heads and hearts. The events in these tales are often small, almost inconsequential in some cases, but Mansfield squeezes out their significance with consummate ease. There's a wry humour here along with compassion and a relentless gaze, and her attention is to class as well as gender. There's nothing big and dramatic here, but these tales linger well beyond their page footprint. View all 6 comments. Katherine Mansfield writes short stories with zest and resonance.
This collection includes stories with settings in New Zealand where she lived as a child and adolescent , the French Riviera and England. Themes include life, death, class, illusion and reality. She writes with a distinctive style and conveys complex truths and thoughts with deceptive simplicity. The characters in each story all have a suggestive isolation from each other. Some stories are tinged with a critical, teasing and despa Katherine Mansfield writes short stories with zest and resonance.
Some stories are tinged with a critical, teasing and despairing feel. Others have sensitive vulnerability, colour and a lovely spirit. There is an edge to Mansfield's writing which I love! A lightness of touch, economy with words, subtleness and ambiguity permeate her stories and leave a wonderful, haunting memory.
View all 4 comments. Feb 04, Duane rated it really liked it Shelves: I'm so excited because I've discovered a new writer, at least new to me, and I will look forward to many wonderful hours of reading as I work my way through the rest of Mansfield's collections. Born in New Zealand but moved to England, she was friends with D. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. She wants a lover. Let us go far away. Let us live our life, all new, all ours, from the very beginning. Let us make our fire. Let us sit down to eat together. Let us have long talks at night. Don't be a prude, my dear. You enjoy yourself while you're young.
Harry Kember's loud, indifferent neigh. You see, it's so frightfully difficult when you've nobody. You're so at the mercy of things. You can't just be rude. And you've always this horror of seeming inexperienced and stuffy like the other ninnies at the Bay. And—and it's fascinating to know you've power over people.
Yes, that is fascinating. Oh why, oh why doesn't "he" come soon? But Beryl dismissed it. She couldn't be left. Other people, perhaps, but not she. It wasn't possible to think that Beryl Fairfield never married, that lovely fascinating girl. As if I could forget her! It was one summer at the Bay that I saw her.
She was standing on the beach in a blue"—no, pink—"muslin frock, holding on a big cream"—no, black—"straw hat. But it's years ago now. As she gazed, she saw somebody, a man, leave the road, step along the paddock beside their palings as if he was coming straight towards her. Who could it be?
It couldn't be a burglar, certainly not a burglar, for he was smoking and he strolled lightly. Beryl's heart leapt; it seemed to turn right over, and then to stop. Come for a walk—at that time of night! It's such a fine night. There's not a soul about. But already something stirred in her, something reared its head. The voice said, "Frightened? As she spoke that weak thing within her seemed to uncoil, to grow suddenly tremendously strong; she longed to go!
And just as if this was quite understood by the other, the voice said, gently and softly, but finally, "Come along! He was there before her. The moonlight stared and glittered; the shadows were like bars of iron. Her hand was taken. We'll just go as far as that fuchsia bush.
It fell over the fence in a shower. There was a little pit of darkness beneath. For a moment Harry Kember didn't answer. Then he came close to her, turned to her, smiled and said quickly, "Don't be silly! That bright, blind, terrifying smile froze her with horror. What was she doing? How had she got here? But Beryl was strong. She slipped, ducked, wrenched free. XIII A cloud, small, serene, floated across the moon. Then the cloud sailed away, and the sound of the sea was a vague murmur, as though it waked out of a dark dream. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it.
Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud. Only the blue was veiled with a haze of light gold, as it is sometimes in early summer. The gardener had been up since dawn, mowing the lawns and sweeping them, until the grass and the dark flat rosettes where the daisy plants had been seemed to shine. As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden-parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels.
Breakfast was not yet over before the men came to put up the marquee. I'm determined to leave everything to you children this year. Forget I am your mother. Treat me as an honoured guest. 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. It's so delicious to have an excuse for eating out of doors, and besides, she loved having to arrange things; she always felt she could do it so much better than anybody else.
Four men in their shirt-sleeves stood grouped together on the garden path. They carried staves covered with rolls of canvas, and they had big tool-bags slung on their backs. Laura wished now that she was not holding that piece of bread-and-butter, but there was nowhere to put it, and she couldn't possibly throw it away. She blushed and tried to look severe and even a little bit short-sighted as she came up to them. But that sounded so fearfully affected that she was ashamed, and stammered like a little girl, "Oh—er—have you come—is it about the marquee?
What nice eyes he had, small, but such a dark blue! And now she looked at the others, they were smiling too. How very nice workmen were! And what a beautiful morning! She mustn't mention the morning; she must be business-like. They turned, they stared in the direction. A little fat chap thrust out his under-lip, and the tall fellow frowned. You see, with a thing like a marquee," and he turned to Laura in his easy way, "you want to put it somewhere where it'll give you a bang slap in the eye, if you follow me.
But she did quite follow him. He had a haggard look as his dark eyes scanned the tennis-court. What was he thinking? But the tall fellow interrupted. Then the karaka-trees would be hidden. And they were so lovely, with their broad, gleaming leaves, and their clusters of yellow fruit. They were like trees you imagined growing on a desert island, proud, solitary, lifting their leaves and fruits to the sun in a kind of silent splendour.
Must they be hidden by a marquee? Already the men had shouldered their staves and were making for the place. Only the tall fellow was left. He bent down, pinched a sprig of lavender, put his thumb and forefinger to his nose and snuffed up the smell. When Laura saw that gesture she forgot all about the karakas in her wonder at him caring for things like that—caring for the smell of lavender. How many men that she knew would have done such a thing? Oh, how extraordinarily nice workmen were, she thought.
Why couldn't she have workmen for her friends rather than the silly boys she danced with and who came to Sunday night supper? She would get on much better with men like these. It's all the fault, she decided, as the tall fellow drew something on the back of an envelope, something that was to be looped up or left to hang, of these absurd class distinctions.
Not a bit, not an atom.
The Garden Party: And Other Stories Summary
And now there came the chock-chock of wooden hammers. Someone whistled, someone sang out, "Are you right there, matey? She felt just like a work-girl. In the hall her father and Laurie were brushing their hats ready to go to the office. See if it wants pressing. Suddenly she couldn't stop herself. She ran at Laurie and gave him a small, quick squeeze. Yes, isn't it a perfect morning? Oh, I certainly should. One moment—hold the line. Sheridan's voice floated down the stairs. She was still, listening.
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All the doors in the house seemed to be open. The house was alive with soft, quick steps and running voices. The green baize door that led to the kitchen regions swung open and shut with a muffled thud. And now there came a long, chuckling absurd sound. It was the heavy piano being moved on its stiff castors. If you stopped to notice, was the air always like this? Little faint winds were playing chase in at the tops of the windows, out at the doors.
And there were two tiny spots of sun, one on the inkpot, one on a silver photograph frame, playing too. Especially the one on the inkpot lid. It was quite warm. A warm little silver star. She could have kissed it. A man's voice murmured; Sadie answered, careless, "I'm sure I don't know. I'll ask Mrs Sheridan.
There, just inside the door, stood a wide, shallow tray full of pots of pink lilies. Nothing but lilies—canna lilies, big pink flowers, wide open, radiant, almost frighteningly alive on bright crimson stems. She crouched down as if to warm herself at that blaze of lilies; she felt they were in her fingers, on her lips, growing in her breast. Sadie, go and find mother. And I suddenly thought for once in my life I shall have enough canna lilies. The garden-party will be a good excuse. The florist's man was still outside at his van. She always made them feel they were taking part in some drama.
Let's try over 'This life is Weary. The piano burst out so passionately that Jose's face changed. She clasped her hands. A Love that Chan -ges, And then. But at the word "Good-bye," and although the piano sounded more desperate than ever, her face broke into a brilliant, dreadfully unsympathetic smile. This Life is Wee -ary, Hope comes to Die. A Dream—a Wa -kening. But now Sadie interrupted them.
And the children knew by her face that she hadn't got them. You'll have to write them out for me. Meg, go upstairs this minute and take that wet thing off your head. Jose, run and finish dressing this instant. Do you hear me, children, or shall I have to tell your father when he comes home tonight? And—and, Jose, pacify cook if you do go into the kitchen, will you? I'm terrified of her this morning. Sheridan could not imagine. Have you done that? Sheridan held the envelope away from her. It can't be mice, can it?
The Garden Party: And Other Stories Summary - oherijarutuc.gq
What a horrible combination it sounds. She found Jose there pacifying the cook, who did not look at all terrifying. She had seen the man pass the window. That meant the cream puffs had come. Godber's were famous for their cream puffs. Nobody ever thought of making them at home. Sadie brought them in and went back to the door. Of course Laura and Jose were far too grown-up to really care about such things. All the same, they couldn't help agreeing that the puffs looked very attractive. Cook began arranging them, shaking off the extra icing sugar.
Fancy cream puffs so soon after breakfast. The very idea made one shudder. All the same, two minutes later Jose and Laura were licking their fingers with that absorbed inward look that only comes from whipped cream. They're such awfully nice men. Sadie had her hand clapped to her cheek as though she had toothache. Hans's face was screwed up in the effort to understand. Only Godber's man seemed to be enjoying himself; it was his story. Of course, she knew them. His horse shied at a traction-engine, corner of Hawke Street this morning, and he was thrown out on the back of his head. There she paused and leaned against it.
But Jose was still more amazed. My dear Laura, don't be so absurd. Of course we can't do anything of the kind. Nobody expects us to. Don't be so extravagant. A broad road ran between. True, they were far too near. They were the greatest possible eyesore, and they had no right to be in that neighbourhood at all.
They were little mean dwellings painted a chocolate brown. In the garden patches there was nothing but cabbage stalks, sick hens and tomato cans. The very smoke coming out of their chimneys was poverty-stricken. Little rags and shreds of smoke, so unlike the great silvery plumes that uncurled from the Sheridans' chimneys.
Washerwomen lived in the lane and sweeps and a cobbler, and a man whose house-front was studded all over with minute bird-cages. But since they were grown up, Laura and Laurie on their prowls sometimes walked through. It was disgusting and sordid. They came out with a shudder. But still one must go everywhere; one must see everything. So through they went. I'm every bit as sorry about it as you.
I feel just as sympathetic. She looked at her sister just as she used to when they were little and fighting together. Who said he was drunk? She said just as they had used to say on those occasions, "I'm going straight up to tell mother. Why, what's the matter? What's given you such a colour? Sheridan turned round from her dressing-table. She was trying on a new hat.
Sheridan sighed with relief, and took off the big hat and held it on her knees. Breathless, half-choking, she told the dreadful story. They'd hear us, mother; they're nearly neighbours! She refused to take Laura seriously. It's only by accident we've heard of it. If someone had died there normally—and I can't understand how they keep alive in those poky little holes-we should still be having our party, shouldn't we? She sat down on her mother's sofa and pinched the cushion frill. Sheridan got up and came over to her, carrying the hat. Before Laura could stop her she had popped it on. It's made for you.
I have never seen you look such a picture. She couldn't look at herself; she turned aside. Sheridan lost patience just as Jose had done. And it's not very sympathetic to spoil everybody's enjoyment as you're doing now. There, quite by chance, the first thing she saw was this charming girl in the mirror, in her black hat trimmed with gold daisies, and a long black velvet ribbon. Never had she imagined she could look like that. And now she hoped her mother was right. Am I being extravagant? Perhaps it was extravagant. Just for a moment she had another glimpse of that poor woman and those little children, and the body being carried into the house.
But it all seemed blurred, unreal, like a picture in the newspaper.
The Garden Party and Other Stories
I'll remember it again after the party's over, she decided. And somehow that seemed quite the best plan. Lunch was over by half-past one. By half-past two they were all ready for the fray. The green-coated band had arrived and was established in a corner of the tennis-court. You ought to have arranged them round the pond with the conductor in the middle on a leaf. At the sight of him Laura remembered the accident again. She wanted to tell him. If Laurie agreed with the others, then it was bound to be all right.
And she followed him into the hall. You do look stunning," said Laurie. Soon after that people began coming in streams. The band struck up; the hired waiters ran from the house to the marquee. Wherever you looked there were couples strolling, bending to the flowers, greeting, moving on over the lawn. They were like bright birds that had alighted in the Sheridans' garden for this one afternoon, on their way to—where? Ah, what happiness it is to be with people who all are happy, to press hands, press cheeks, smile into eyes.
I've never seen you look so striking. Won't you have an ice? The passion-fruit ices really are rather special. They stood side by side in the porch till it was all over. Let's go and have some fresh coffee. Yes, it's been very successful. But oh, these parties, these parties! Why will you children insist on giving parties! I wrote the flag. Sheridan took a bite and the sandwich was gone. It nearly ruined the party. Laura insisted we should put it off. Lived just below in the lane, and leaves a wife and half a dozen kiddies, so they say.
Sheridan fidgeted with her cup. Really, it was very tactless of father. Suddenly she looked up. There on the table were all those sandwiches, cakes, puffs, all un-eaten, all going to be wasted. She had one of her brilliant ideas. Let's send that poor creature some of this perfectly good food. At any rate, it will be the greatest treat for the children. And she's sure to have neighbours calling in and so on. What a point to have it all ready prepared.
Again, how curious, she seemed to be different from them all. To take scraps from their party. Would the poor woman really like that? An hour or two ago you were insisting on us being sympathetic, and now—" Oh well! Laura ran for the basket. It was filled, it was heaped by her mother. No, wait, take the arum lilies too.
People of that class are so impressed by arum lilies. A big dog ran by like a shadow. The road gleamed white, and down below in the hollow the little cottages were in deep shade. How quiet it seemed after the afternoon. Here she was going down the hill to somewhere where a man lay dead, and she couldn't realize it. She stopped a minute. And it seemed to her that kisses, voices, tinkling spoons, laughter, the smell of crushed grass were somehow inside her. She had no room for anything else.
She looked up at the pale sky, and all she thought was, "Yes, it was the most successful party. Women in shawls and men's tweed caps hurried by. Men hung over the palings; the children played in the doorways. A low hum came from the mean little cottages. In some of them there was a flicker of light, and a shadow, crab-like, moved across the window.
Laura bent her head and hurried on. She wished now she had put on a coat. How her frock shone! And the big hat with the velvet streamer—if only it was another hat! Were the people looking at her? It was a mistake to have come; she knew all along it was a mistake. Should she go back even now?
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This was the house. A dark knot of people stood outside. Beside the gate an old, old woman with a crutch sat in a chair, watching. She had her feet on a newspaper. The voices stopped as Laura drew near. It was as though she was expected, as though they had known she was coming here. Laura was terribly nervous. Tossing the velvet ribbon over her shoulder, she said to a woman standing by, "Is this Mrs.
She actually said, "Help me, God," as she walked up the tiny path and knocked. To be away from those staring eyes, or be covered up in anything, one of those women's shawls even.
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I'll just leave the basket and go, she decided. I shan't even wait for it to be emptied. A little woman in black showed in the gloom. Laura said, "Are you Mrs. I only want to leave this basket. Mother sent—" The little woman in the gloomy passage seemed not to have heard her. She found herself in a wretched little low kitchen, lighted by a smoky lamp. There was a woman sitting before the fire.
It's a young lady. She said meaningly, "I'm 'er sister, miss. You'll excuse 'er, won't you? I—I only want to leave—" But at that moment the woman at the fire turned round. Her face, puffed up, red, with swollen eyes and swollen lips, looked terrible. She seemed as though she couldn't understand why Laura was there.
What did it mean? Why was this stranger standing in the kitchen with a basket? What was it all about? And the poor face puckered up again.
See a Problem?
Laura only wanted to get out, to get away. She was back in the passage. She walked straight through into the bedroom where the dead man was lying. There's nothing to show. Come along, my dear. There lay a young man, fast asleep—sleeping so soundly, so deeply, that he was far, far away from them both.
Oh, so remote, so peaceful. Never wake him up again. His head was sunk in the pillow, his eyes were closed; they were blind under the closed eyelids. He was given up to his dream. What did garden-parties and baskets and lace frocks matter to him? He was far from all those things. He was wonderful, beautiful. While they were laughing and while the band was playing, this marvel had come to the lane.
All is well, said that sleeping face. This is just as it should be. But all the same you had to cry, and she couldn't go out of the room without saying something to him. Laura gave a loud childish sob. And this time she didn't wait for Em's sister. She found her way out of the door, down the path, past all those dark people. At the corner of the lane she met Laurie. He stepped out of the shadow. Was it all right? Laura shook her head. Laurie put his arm round her shoulder. Then she feels embarrassed for having mentioned that a band will play at the party.
Happily, the assured manner of the tallest workman relaxes Laura; he speaks for the group and decides where the marquee should go. When he pinches a sprig of lavender and sniffs it, any concerns that Laura might have about her behavior vanish. In fact, she wishes that men of her own class were as nice as this man. This time a florist interrupts her reverie; the frighteningly alive pink canna lilies that he delivers make Laura ecstatic.
Preparations for the party continue throughout the household. The cook requests flags to identify the kinds of sandwiches that she is readying. Another delivery man arrives with irresistible cream puffs—which Sadie, the family maid, insists that the children sample. As the children lick their sticky fingers, unpleasant news arrives: A man named Scott from a nearby poor neighborhood has just died in an accident. Like the Sheridans, his family has five children.
When Laura hears this news, she insists that the garden party should be canceled. However, her sister Jose argues with her. Laura appeals to their mother, but Mrs. Laura remains unsure about what she should do, but when she sees herself in her new hat, her astonishment quiets her objections about the party. By the time lunch is over and the guests arrive, Laura is content to be praised for her beauty, and she no longer mentions the accident.
The party is successful. Laura delivers the basket, feeling painfully out of place in the poor neighborhood. Confused and awkward, Laura tries to leave but accidentally walks into the room where the dead man lies. The resulting encounter with the dead man confuses Laura even more.