Life And People In “The Garden Party” Essay, Research Paper
What Laura and Mrs. Sheridan Learned
About Life and People
The Garden Party is a wonderful and enlightening story with several life lessons intertwined behind the fictional characters. Deeply studying and analyzing the text can produce a great deal of thought and from that thought – inspiration. We learn that people can learn from people. Be it by their mistakes or their triumphs. It does not matter the position or role in the family; wisdom can come from anyone.
In the story, a poor man from the village in which the Sheridans live dies. Laura wishes to stop the party and help the newly widowed woman. The guests of the party, including her parents, think she is out of her mind for even thinking such things. Laura is shocked by the actions of her friends and is appalled by their selfishness.
At the same time, Laura’s mother, Mrs. Sheridan, thinks Laura is foolish. She believes it to be degrading to the self-image of Laura herself, and the rest of her family. Showing kindness to someone of a lower social class is strictly forbidden, especially to stop a party midway to go visit a poor widow. More importantly than the degrading factor was what other people would think of her and them. When Laura suggested they cancel the garden party Jose said, ” ‘Stop the garden-party? 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.’ ” Laura could not believe what she had heard from her sister, so she went to speak to her mom,
” To Laura’s astonishment her mother behaved just like Jose, it was harder to bear because she seemed amused. She refused to take Laura seriously. ‘But, my dear child, use your common sense. It’s only by accident we’ve heard of it. If some one 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 fell victim to one of the terrible mindsets of pleasing the public. The mindset of needing to fulfill the expectations of the social order.
Mrs. Sheridan, did however, show some sympathy after a while. She agreed to let Laura take a basket of food down to the widow. Although she did seem to be showing a caring side she added a comment that changed anyone’s mind that might have been thinking that. She said, ” ‘Take it yourself, darling. Run down just as you are. No, wait, take the arum lilies too. People of that class are so impressed by arum lilies.’ ” As if they were so poor that they had never seen flowers before. Then as she thought about it a little more, she decided that instead of taking a chance of letting Laura getting her clothes dirty, she should only take the food,
” ‘The stems will ruin her lace frock,’ said practical Jose.
So they would. Just in time. ‘Only the basket, then. And Laura!’–her mother followed her out of the marquee–’don’t on any account–’
No, better not put such ideas into the child’s head! ‘Nothing! Run along.’ ”
By doing this, Laura taught her mother that it is not important to look at wealth to determine the quality of a person and kindness is deserved by everyone. From everyone. When Jose said they could not stop the party she replied with, “But we can’t possibly have a garden-party with a man dead just outside the front gate.” Mrs. Sheridan also learned something about her daughter. She learned that her daughter, unlike her, cares about other people regardless of their social standing. Mrs. Sheridan is one of those people that feel superior to anyone with less money. Her daughter is a third kind of people. She doesn’t feel that anyone is better or worthier than anyone else. To her, everyone is equal. Without people like her, the world would split apart.
Laura learned that people in different social classes treat eachother differently to a point where neither of them care about the other at all. The people in the higher classes give themselves the mentality that anyone with less money and/or class is inferior to them and they feel so much greater than they that they turn their backs to them. On the same token, the lower class feels they aren’t worthy of conversing with anyone above them. They just stick with the people around them and try to maneuver around the higher class. Both sides treat the other as a different race. They totally forget that without wealth, they are all the same.