The Daughters of the Late Colonel

by

Katherine Mansfield

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Daughters of the Late Colonel can help.
Themes and Colors
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Daughters of the Late Colonel, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Patriarchy and Oppression

In “The Daughters of the Late Colonel,” Constantia and Josephine, the adult daughters of a recently deceased colonel, must fend for themselves in a world without their father—their only beneficiary as well as the individual for whom they have provided for many years. After the colonel’s death, Constantia and Josephine’s lives are exposed as stunted and meaningless, since their sole purpose was to care for their elderly father: they have been forced to…

read analysis of Patriarchy and Oppression

Ambivalence and Dependency

Constantia and Josephine are in charge of their household and must assume positions of leadership after the colonel’s death, yet they are utterly dependent on each other and the assistance of their cook, Kate. Even though Kate is both rude and potentially spying on her bosses, Constantia and Josephine feel unable to fire her and cannot decide whether she is valuable to them or not. Indeed, the sisters seem unable to make sound…

read analysis of Ambivalence and Dependency

Family, Instability, and Fragmentation

Flashbacks in the narrative suggest that Constantia and Josephine’s relationship to their brother, nephew, and deceased mother are as complicated as their relationship to the colonel: Mansfield depicts a fractured family, torn apart by death, money, and conflicting desires. Written in the recent wake of the Victorian era, “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” explores family structures that no longer adhere to the traditional model of stable Victorian living. Instead, the Pinners are…

read analysis of Family, Instability, and Fragmentation
Get the entire The Daughters of the Late Colonel LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Daughters of the Late Colonel PDF