Garden Party - Garrett Edell Prejudice or Compassion Many...

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Garrett Edell 10/16/07 Prejudice or Compassion Many times the reader is left with an uncertainty about the protagonist at the end of a story, unsure if the character has undergone a positive or negative change. In the short story “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield, the reader could be doubtful if Laura, the protagonist, has changed positively by the end of the story. However, if one examines the actions of Laura throughout the story, and her vacillate nature of caring for the lower class, one can see that she will not change from the rest of the Sheridans. Laura is not strong enough nor does she have enough self control to resist the class prejudices. Even though she does not show contempt and disgust towards the lower classes, she will turn into another self interested Sheridan eventually. Throughout the story the reader can see many examples of where Laura is attempting to overcome the class discriminations yet falls right back into them. When she first meets the workers, she is kind and says to herself, “How very nice workmen were.”(248) Laura is not at all being mean and seems to be the only Sheridan that gets along with a lower class. However the reader can see that Laura is acting very ignorant and has fell into a social prejudice and it is not conscious because she has been raised this way. Laura does not now the workers, yet after only a few short exchanges she has already deemed them kind people. She is giving them an automatic simplicity, assuming that they are so easily figured out which in itself is condescending. Later on she sees a worker smelling lavender and wonders why he was “caring for things like that-caring for the smell of lavenders.”(249) Yet again, in her innocence, she is revealing her ignorance and the struggle in her between prejudice and acceptance. Laura does not want to be like her selfish sister and mother, but she is living in a world of unconsciousness and contentment,
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unaware of how closed off from the real world she is.
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