Katherine Mansfield's Fiction

By Patrick D. Morrow | Go to book overview

Chapter Eight

Conclusion:
KM and Other Contemporary
British Short Story Writers

This concluding chapter compares Mansfield to some other short story writers. Rather than proffering generalizations and value judgments about Mansfield and a bunch of other writers, this chapter makes some conclusions by pointing to specific stories both by Mansfield and other writers. Precision, rather than generalization, is the aim in this chapter, as is the aim in all preceding chapters.


Elizabeth Bowen

As Katherine Mansfield finds a deep social concern in the Britain of World War I and shortly before, Elizabeth Bowen develops short, poignant sketches of a London under siege in World War II. As Angus Wilson emphasizes in his introduction to Bowen's Collected Stories, Bowen recalls the terror of a society shaking apart during the Blitzkrieg. If "Germans at Meat" offers an allegory for the growing social conflicts between countries in pre‐ Great War Europe, "Breakfast" presents a chronicle of one man's sense of captivity in an environment swooning under trauma and struggling to maintain its unity.

The vehicle in each story is the same: the English narrator of "Germans at Meat" feels more intimidated as the German appetite for lunch grows more voracious and the insults to England become more hostile; likewise, Mr. Rossiter finds breakfast less tolerable as the residents of his mostly female boarding-house "family" attack each other in turns until they reach a consensus on one‐ point—how best to cope with a national transportation strike. Thus, each author presents a setting that best demonstrates the nature of social groups in conflict; when the characters gather for

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