Maturity Vs. Naivety Essay

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Maturity vs. Naivety In her short story, “The Garden Party”, Katherine Mansfield employs a theme of innocence versus experience and assigns certain characters to play the roles. The Sheridan’s youngest daughter, Laura, plays the main role for innocence, while the surrounding cast members, those involved in Laura’s life, represent experience. In this short story, Mansfield uses the circumstances that face Laura to show her desire to be a mature woman, emulating her mother and elder sisters. Throughout these situations, Laura continually failed to grasp her future role in Sheridan family or her place in the world. The story opens with the experienced mother placing the responsibility of their annual garden party on the shoulders of her daughter stating “I’m determined to leave everything to you children this year”(Mansfield 2347). Although the mother explicitly gave this responsibility to Laura she reserves the notion that her years of experience are of better use than her daughter’s. In the incident of the canna lilies, Mrs. Sheridan takes matters into her own hands, ordering the flowers even though she “didn’t mean to interfere” (Mansfield 2349). Laura in fact does not believe herself capable of finding a place for the simple marquee, in which she must turn to the lowly workmen for advice. Displaying her naiveté, she thinks to herself that they were “extraordinarily nice workmen”(Mansfield 2348), but due to her innocence she cannot comprehend that the lower class workers could never be her friends. In an article, Jennifer Rich writes how Laura is embarrassed by the fact of her higher class: “Laura attempts to mediate that duality by playing both roles–taking a big workman-like bite from her slice of refined Sheridan life while thinking of the “absurdity of class distinctions” (Rich 9). All the other characters display more life experience than Laura and even

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