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“The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield Essay

Almost everybody in the story wears a hat; it tells something about the person who wears it. It is used as a statussymbol; the classes are expressed by their hats. That is why it has an important place in the story. Laura’s feeling towards class distinctions is related to the hat. The hat gives her a status; when she walks towards the dead man’s house, she thinks everyone is looking at her big hat with a velvet streamer. The other people who live in the little houses are very poor, so they can not afford such a hat.

At first Laura feels more comfortable with the working-class than with her own class, but after putting the hat on, she feels different, as if she has more status. Laura does not feel comfortable with the people she lives with and she thinks that she would feel more comfortable with the working-class. “Why couldn’t she have workmen for 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.” (2425) After seeing herself in the mirror with her hat on, her feelings toward the working class changes. Laura is thinking that maybe she does belong with the people she lives among with, and not with the working class and the dead man’s wife. She decided to forget about them, and to concentrate on the party.

Laura feels uncomfortable with her hat, because it makes her feel different than the working class. That is her biggest problem with wearing a hat; that she does not want to be different than other people. When she wears a hat she immediately thinks she has more status; for example when she is looking in the mirror. When she is walking to the house of the dead man, she feels so ashamed for wearing such a beautiful hat, that she apologizes. She has the feeling she has to apologize, because she wears it in front of the poor people, that could never afford it: “Forgive my hat, she said.”

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