The Garden Party

by

Katherine Mansfield

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The Workmen Character Analysis

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 straightforward dialect and unassuming kindness, which contrast with her family’s Queen’s English and snobbishness toward people unlike themselves. Laura is particularly struck when she sees one of them bend down to sniff a lavender sprig, which makes her wish she could spend time with “men like these” rather than the “silly boys” of other rich families. She imagines herself as a “work-girl” while she watches them go about their business. The workmen largely serve to introduce Laura’s differences from her family—namely, her dissatisfaction with class divisions and sympathy for workers.

The Workmen Quotes in The Garden Party

The The Garden Party quotes below are all either spoken by The Workmen or refer to The Workmen . 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:
Work and Leisure Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Garden Party published in 1997.
The Garden Party Quotes

He bent down, pinched a sprig of lavender, put his thumb and forefinger to his nose and snuffed up the smell. When Laura saw that gesture she forgot all about the karakas in her wonder at him caring for things like that the smell of lavender. How many men that she knew would have done such a thing? Oh, how extraordinarily nice workmen were, she thought. Why couldn't she have workmen for her friends rather than the silly boys she danced with and who came to Sunday night supper? She would get on much better with men like these.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Laura Sheridan , The Workmen
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Garden Party PDF

The Workmen Character Timeline in The Garden Party

The timeline below shows where the character The Workmen appears in The Garden Party. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Garden Party
Work and Leisure Theme Icon
Empathy, Understanding, and Class Consciousness Theme Icon
Childhood, Family and Independence Theme Icon
...have this responsibility and heads outside with her breakfast of “bread-and-butter.” She meets the four workmen and is impressed by their tools. She approaches them nervously and tries to greet them... (full context)
Work and Leisure Theme Icon
Empathy, Understanding, and Class Consciousness Theme Icon
Beauty, Refinement and Detachment Theme Icon
Laura suggests they set up the marquee on the lily-lawn. The workman disagrees, suggesting the marquee should go somewhere more obvious, where it can “give you a... (full context)
Work and Leisure Theme Icon
Empathy, Understanding, and Class Consciousness Theme Icon
Beauty, Refinement and Detachment Theme Icon
Childhood, Family and Independence Theme Icon
The narrator answers her own question: “they must.” The workmen have already started assembling the marquee, and Laura’s worries evaporate when she is surprised to... (full context)