The Garden Party

by

Katherine Mansfield

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Marquee Symbol Analysis

Marquee Symbol Icon

The story opens with Mrs. Sheridan sending her daughter Laura to go supervise four workmen as they set up the marquee (a large outdoor tent) in the family garden. The marquee represents Laura and her siblings’ sheltered upbringing, and Laura’s forays out of the marquee mark the beginning of her broadening horizons. Laura’s mother asks her to decide where to put the marquee and to instruct the workmen of her decision, which gives Laura a false sense that she has meaningful decision-making power. Her ideas, of course, are not taken seriously, as the workmen decide on their own where to put the marquee while Laura imagines herself as a “work-girl.” This shows how sheltered Laura is: she simultaneously believes that she has power in this situation, and also fancies herself of a different class now that she has brushed shoulders with working people. Laura’s role in setting up the marquee echoes her later advocacy for the Sheridans to help out the Scotts. While Laura earnestly instructs her family to postpone the party, they ignore her pleas. After the party, however, they finally agree to help in a condescending and limited way by sending Laura with a basket of leftovers. Notably, Mrs. Sheridan makes this decision in the marquee, to which her family has returned for shelter after the party’s end. Mrs. Sheridan wants to remain in her sheltered, upper-class life, while Laura walks out of the marquee and towards the Scott household, giving her an experience of poverty to which she had not previously had access. Laura’s illusion of control over the marquee’s setup represents her illusion of control over her own sheltered childhood, but her trip out of the marquee represents her gradual but incomplete voyage beyond that upbringing.

Marquee Quotes in The Garden Party

The The Garden Party quotes below all refer to the symbol of Marquee. 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

“My dear child, it's no use asking me. I'm determined to leave everything to you children this year. Forget I am your mother. Treat me as an honoured guest.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Sheridan (speaker), Laura Sheridan , Meg Sheridan
Related Symbols: Marquee
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Garden Party LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Garden Party PDF

Marquee Symbol Timeline in The Garden Party

The timeline below shows where the symbol Marquee 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
Beauty, Refinement and Detachment Theme Icon
Childhood, Family and Independence Theme Icon
...at least two of her daughters, Meg and Laura, four workmen come to assemble the marquee (a large outdoor tent). Mrs. Sheridan insists that one of the children must decide where... (full context)
Work and Leisure Theme Icon
Empathy, Understanding, and Class Consciousness Theme Icon
Childhood, Family and Independence Theme Icon
...would. Instead, she cannot find the right words and stutters “Oh—er—have you come—it about the marquee?” When one of the workmen smiles and answers warmly in the affirmative, Laura is relieved... (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... (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 see one of them bend down... (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
...is exhausted because her children always “insist on giving parties.” The family convenes in the marquee. (full context)