What Laura and Mrs. Sheridan Learned
About Life and People in The Garden Party
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...