This dissertation traces the imprint of exile in two short stories by Katherine Mansfield. Through a close reading of ‘At the Bay’ and ‘The Garden Party’, I want to focus on the way in which the development of the characters is inextricably linked to the places they inhabit, and argue that Mansfield’s exile position is reflected in the unity of character and place, the liminal ‘in-between’ spaces, the use of symbolic landscape and the nostalgic rendering of New Zealand. In relation to the nostalgic descriptions, the archetypal image of the Garden of Eden and the utopian aspects of the pastoral Arcadia will be central to the discussion.
This enquiry places Mansfield’s stories in a larger context of postcolonialism. Salman Rushdie and Edward Said’s views on exile will be central to the discussion, as well as Homi K. Bhabha’s theory of liminality, which will be related to Victor Turner’s theory of rites of passage. The characters in Mansfield’s stories experience in-between moments when they move from one mental state to the other. In my view, the attempt to describe transitory moments in order to preserve them is a reflection of her exile position.