The Garden Party

by

Katherine Mansfield

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The Garden Party Characters

Laura Sheridan

The story’s curious and free-spirited protagonist, Laura is Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan’s teenage daughter and sister to Laurie, Jose and Meg. As she begins to come of age, Laura starts to realize the… read analysis of Laura Sheridan

Mrs. Sheridan

Laura’s domineering and passive-aggressive socialite mother, Mrs. Sheridan obsessively plans the garden-party with her children’s help even as she insists that all the preparations are up to them. Her authority and tendency to speak… read analysis of Mrs. Sheridan

Meg Sheridan

Another of Laura’s siblings, Meg is a relatively minor character and does not speak in the story. Like the rest of her family, Meg is depicted as living a leisurely life: she drinks coffee with… read analysis of Meg Sheridan

Jose Sheridan

Jose is Laura’s forceful, practical, and confident sister who enjoys ordering around her siblings and the family’s servants. The way Jose talks to her mother suggests that she is younger than Laura, and she is… read analysis of Jose Sheridan

Laurie Sheridan

Laurie is Laura’s brother, confidant, and character foil. He is close to Laura in age but behaves in an exceedingly formal way, like a caricature of British gentry. While he is a comforting and understanding… read analysis of Laurie Sheridan
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The Narrator

The narrator of "The Garden Party" is third-person and omniscient, but far from objective. In general, Mansfield's narrator parrots the Sheridan family's condescension toward the poor and their obsession with showing off all the beautiful… read analysis of The Narrator

Hans

“Good little” Hans is a servant in the Sheridan house and does not speak in the story. He helps Jose and Meg move the piano in the drawing-room and listens to Godber’s man recount Scottread analysis of Hans

Cook

Occasionally capitalized but usually referenced in lowercase, the Sheridans’ cook has a much more forceful presence than the other servants. On the morning of the garden-party, Mrs. Sheridan insists she is “terrified” of cook and… read analysis of Cook

Kitty Maitland

Kitty Maitland is the only named guest who attends the garden party, but the story doesn’t include any information about who she is or how she knows the Sheridans. She is clearly also a member… read analysis of Kitty Maitland

The Workmen

The four workmen who arrive with their tools to set up the marquee in the Sheridans’ yard instigate the story’s first encounter between Laura and characters of another class background. Laura is impressed by their… read analysis of The Workmen

The Band

A “green-coated” band arrives in the afternoon and plays at the garden-party. The Sheridans’ ability to hire a band reflects their class status, and Laura worries about this repeatedly. When one of the workmen asks… read analysis of The Band

Godber’s Man

The deliveryman for Godber’s famous cream puff shop is the one who first tells Sadie, Hans, and the Sheridan family about Mr. Scott’s accidental death. He is a peculiar character because, although he… read analysis of Godber’s Man

Em Scott

Em is Mr. Scott’s wife and mother to their five children. After his death, she is left without a livelihood. Laura encounters Em sitting by the fireplace at her house, her face swollen from crying… read analysis of Em Scott

Em Scott’s Sister

Em’s unnamed sister greets Laura upon her arrival at Scott’s house. Laura is terrified, both of the poor people who live in the cottages but also of how out-of-place she looks in her party clothes… read analysis of Em Scott’s Sister
Minor Characters
Mr. Sheridan
Mr. Sheridan, the family’s patriarch, only appears twice in the story: he goes “to the office” with Laurie (readers do not learn his profession or the source of the Sheridans’ wealth) and later mentions Scott’s death in the marquee after the party.
Sadie
Another servant in the Sheridan house, Sadie is primarily a messenger: she repeatedly interrupts the action with news concerning other characters’ arrivals or requests. She speaks directly but deferentially and seems to understand that the Sheridans look down on her as an inferior.
The Florist’s Man
The florist’s man delivers trays and trays of bright pink canna lilies to the Sheridans’ house on the morning of the garden-party.
Mr. Scott
Mr. Scott is a poor horse-drawn cart operator who lives at the bottom of the hill with his wife Em and five children. He is thrown out of his cart and killed the morning of the Sheridans’ party. Laura encounters his “wonderful, beautiful” dead body at the story’s climax.