the term paper is to be about the process of initiation of the protagonists of the two stories The Garden Party (Laura) by Katherine Mansfield and Indian Camp
(Nick) by Ernest Hemingway.
The following points are the table of contents for the paper with a description of what each point should include:
The thesis is that in both stories, the initiation is triggered by a shocking, traumatic experience the children go through, which is in Indian Camp
the violence and suffering of childbirth and the confrontation with death (suicide) and in The Garden Party also the confrontation with the accidental death of a workman.
The stories both contain similar themes (death and life, innocence and ignorance) and symbols (initiation symbols, imagery of light and darkness) to describe the process of initiation BUT the way the initiation of the children is brought about and guided by the parents is different, as well as the stage of childhood they are in is a different one, and the children react and act differently in light of the events that take place and thus, the outcome at the end of the stories is an opposite one.
In the sources I will supply an essay by Mordecai Marcus. In the thesis, state that Mordecai's statement that "An initiation is a fall through knowledge to maturity" applies only to Laura, and in Nick's case, his initiation ends rather in a "fall through knowledge to immaturity" since i the end he fails to recognize the importance of the night's events and immaturely thinks that he would never die.
So please include this thesis in the Introduction, as well as a very brief content summary of both stories which should not be more than 3-4 sentences for each story. The summary should only already indicate that the stories move into a different direction, meaning to a different ending.
2 Use of Symbolism
2.1 Symbols of Initiation
Both stories feature a broad variety of imagery and symbols of initiation. Prove that the symbolism and imagery in The Garden Party clearly shows Laura's maturation and growth and that the symbolism in Indian Camp
rather indicates Nick still wanting to remain in his childhood state.
Crossing of the lake -> the path to lead Nick to his initiation.
The bass making a circle in the water -> Nick witnessed the circle of life and death but he didn't understand the real meaning of this knowledge, so it's like he only "went around in a circle" and is now right where he started, no progress has taken place.
Childbirth -> an important part of life but Nick looks away, thus refusing to be initiated into this important knowledge of the cycle of life.
In the end of the story Nick sits away from his father, unlike in the beginning where he was in his fathers arms -> this could show a growing independence from his father, but in the light of the interpretation that Indian Camp
is more of an "anti-initiation" and Nick's "fall to immaturity" it could mean that he doesn't want his fathers guidance anymore, after his father took him to the camp
to initiate him and it failed to have the desired effect. His father even apologizes for taking him along so Nick moves away from the person who tried to initiate him in the first place and withdraws back into his state of childishness with no adults trying to initiate him.
The Garden Party:
The hat -> the hat the mother gives Laura is her trying to impose the awareness of class onto her daughter and pass on to her the prejudices and ignorance about the lower class etc.
The lilies and the garden -> symbolise the state of innocence of Laura and the protected world that her parents and family have tried to keep her in, to prevent her from coming into contact with the outside world (the lower class) and thus, preventing her from fully maturing
the buttered bread/talking to the workmen -> signifies the beginning of Laura's maturation when she deals with the workmen by herself and sheds her initial embarrassment of holding a slice of buttered bread in front of them when she takes a bite out of it. THis shows that she is ready or prepared to be an adult or at least, adolescent.
The Road Down the Hill -> the threshold from childhood innocence to the knowledge that is imparted on her in the cottage. She goes this road alone, even though she is scared she takes her initiation into her own hands.
You are free to find more examples.
2.2 The Imagery of Light and Darkness
Please find examples of Light and Darkness Imagery in both stories and use them to symbolise the process of initiation or in Nick's case rather anti-initiation of the children. For example:
The Garden Party: the world of the Sheridans is bright, shining, and heavenly. The world of the Scotts, on the other hand, is dark, gloomy, and cimmerian -> the brightness symbolises Laura's innocence and protected childhood in which her parents keep her, and later she is venturing into the dark, unknown world of adulthood and the realities of life and death etc.
After the party, the imagery darkens although there are a few glimmers of light -> find examples and explain this, for example this signifies Laura's impending loss of innocence and her venturing out from her protected bubble into the outside world, which she is scared of. The outside world, the adult world, is not all bright and light like her childhood world, instead it is dark and gloomy but there are specks of lights too. It has both light and darkness, life and death, good sides and bad sides which are the important lessons that Laura learns during her initiation.
: Nick and his father start off their journey in the night -> in this case, the darkness signifies the lack of knowledge that surrounds Nick and his blindness to the events that take place in the shanty in the Indian camp
. There are specks of light too such as the Indian
's lantern and the woman who awaits them in the shanty is holding a lantern as well -> symbols for the knowledge that is tried to be handed down to Nick in the shanty.
When Nick and his father walk back to the boat it is "just beginning to be daylight" -> it is not yet made clear if Nick's initiation was successfull, whether he understood the events of the night and if he learned anything valuable from it and he asks his father questions
Then in the boat, the sun comes up over the hills and together with the idyllic picture of the lake that is painted in the end, this shows Nick's withdrawal into his childhood immaturity, he doesn't want to deal with the pain and suffering of life and death and the events he experienced, for him everything is light and innocent.
Please find more examples if possible.
3 Comparison of Themes
3.1 Life and Death
Start with a short introduction that understanding the cycle of life and death is an important lesson in the coming of age of children and a vital part to their initiation, which is why both stories contain this theme etc. Then focus on what both Nick and Laura learn from the experiences with death and dying.
The Garden Party: Laura meets face to face with death, and the results of it will change her look on life forever. Laura has to accept the simultaneity of it all, death and life happen side by side and there is beauty in death, too.
: Nick deals with the pain and suffering of death (suicide) and the complications of childbirth, and if he accepted these things it would mean a destruction of his idea of a harmless and untouched world, and thus he represses it.
In this part, definitely find more examples and show the importance of the life and death motif in the children's thinking.
3.2 Innocence and Ignorance
Laura and Nick both haven't gained much experience outside their protected childhood bubble, they both start off in a state of innocence.
But in The Garden Party, Laura has to overcome her family's and especially her mother's ignorance to be able to understand life for herself. She has a moment of ignorance when she accepts the hat her mother gives her, the symbol of class, but she later apologises to the dead man for the hat. Please define here what she apologises about (her mother's ignorance and her temporary own ignorance etc.)
In Indian Camp
, it is mainly Nicks own ignorance that he fails to overcome and that prevent him from seeing the importance of what he goes through. He closes his eyes and doesn't want to watch his father...
3.2 Activeness vs Passiveness
Explain here that Laura is actively seeking out her own maturation, and she goes through it alone when she leaves her family's house and goes to the cottage on her own. She is ready for her initiation, which was already indicated when she talked and supervised the workmen in the garden. Her family try to shield her from the outside world and from experiencing the reality of the world by only keeping her in their house on the hill and her mother trying to impose her worldview on her.
Nick on the other hand is much younger and taken by his father to the Indian camp
. His father kind of forces the initition on him and Nick only endures it in a way. The attempts of his father to explain the events to him he answers with "I see" and "I know", which shows his naivite as well as his disinterest. He quickly loses interest and looks away, he is obviously passive. In contrast to Laura, he is offered knowledge on a silver plate but he reacts with ignorance and passiveness and thus, prevents his own growth and maturation.
4 The Epiphany
Both children have an epiphany in the end. Laura's is an awakening to a more mature perception of reality after her exposure to poverty and death at the carter's cottage (PLEASE ELOBORATE HERE, I'm having trouble wording the kind of realization she makes here at the end when she sees the dead man) and Nick is sure that he will never die.
Explain here that Laura's epiphany brings her to knowledge and maturity whereas Nick's is a "false epiphany" and a reversal to immaturity, since he doesn't want to face the inevitability of his own death etc.
Write a conclusion of the findings which should have proven that The Garden Party is an initiation story given the definition of Marcus that "fall through knowledge to maturity" and Indian Camp
rather an Anti-Initiation story which shows a "fall into immaturity through a stubborn resistance of knowledge".
It is important to me that you prove in this story why the one story is an initiation story and the other shows more signs of an anti-initiation story than that of an initiation story. I'm sorry I wrote so much, I just wanted to give you a general idea where the essay should lead to. I want you to show why the one iitiation is succesful and why the other is not basically, regarding the various symbols, themes, the way the initiation process is guided or not guided by the parents etc. If you have any questions about anything I wrote, please feel free to write me!
These will be the 3 documents I will provide via email:
Hemingway, Ernest. “Indian Camp
.” Stories of Initiation. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Sprachen GmbH, 2009. 7-12..
Mansfield, Katherine. “The Garden Party.” Stories of Initiation. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Sprachen GmbH, 2009. 46-64.
Mordecai, Marcus. “What is an Initiation Story?” Journal
There are faxes for this order.
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