The Daughters of the Late Colonel

by

Katherine Mansfield

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Kate is Constantia and Josephine’s difficult, flighty maid, a fixture of the Pinner household who has been with the women and their father for many years. Though she is often rude and unhelpful—refusing to fetch food or take orders from her employers—Josephine and Constantia treat her with respect and cautious politeness, afraid to offend or trouble her (likely because they do not wish to terrorize her in the same way that their father terrorized them). Constantia realizes that Kate may “spy” in their belongings when they are away, and the two sisters discuss firing her, since they believe that her service is no longer needed after their father’s death. Yet they cannot make up their minds about Kate’s trustworthiness, suggesting that they are utterly dependent on her, though she is hardly maternal or supportive: unlike Kate, they cannot cook or run a household themselves.

Kate Quotes in The Daughters of the Late Colonel

The The Daughters of the Late Colonel quotes below are all either spoken by Kate or refer to Kate . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Daughters of the Late Colonel published in 1991.
The Daughters of the Late Colonel Quotes

How did one prove things, how could one? Suppose Kate had stood in front of her and deliberately made a face. Mightn’t she very well have been in pain? Wasn’t it impossible, at any rate, to ask Kate if she was making a face at her? If Kate answered “No”—and of course she would say “No”—what a position! How undignified! Then again Constantia suspected, she was almost certain that Kate went to her chest of drawers when she and Josephine were out, not to take things but to spy.

Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kate Character Timeline in The Daughters of the Late Colonel

The timeline below shows where the character Kate appears in The Daughters of the Late Colonel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Daughters of the Late Colonel
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...inside. Josephine notes that no one sees them in the house, and Constantia replies that Kate and the postman do. Josephine thinks that they will look like black cats in their... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...that are extravagant and distracts herself from Nurse Andrews by asking her sister to ring Kate. Kate, haughty and supercilious—“the enchanted princess”—enters and quickly takes away the sisters’ meals, replacing them... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...terrified by this idea, since they feel that their drawing-room isn’t suited to hosting Communion. Kate might interrupt the ritual, or some other guest, and they wouldn’t know whether to greet... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...go first, but Constantia tells Josephine to open the door, since she is older. Meanwhile, Kate watches the sisters from the kitchen. When the sisters finally work up the nerve to... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...father’s room, the sisters sit down and look at each other. They decide to ask Kate for two cups of hot water, but they decide that they don’t need a jug;... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine decides to send Cyril the watch. She and Constantia are interrupted by Kate, who asks them, “Fried or boiled?” They ask her what she means, and she clarifies:... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine and Constantia retreat into the drawing-room to discuss Kate. Josephine asks Constantia whether they should keep her on or not, since they are no... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine remarks that she isn’t sure whether to trust Kate or not, and Constantia agrees. It’s difficult to prove things, and she wouldn’t automatically assume... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Josephine remarks that they can’t postpone deciding to fire Kate or not, but at that moment, a barrel-organ begins to play outside of their apartment.... (full context)