Mansfield, Katherine. "Prelude".
The Burnells are moving from the town to the country and their individual characters are revealed. Linda Burnell proves to be an ineffective mother: leaves the two youngest daughters, Lottie and Kezia, to follow her later when the coach is too small to carry them all, does not even look up when her youngest ones arrive, and does not follow them to play in the garden. A failing wife: leaves her husband playing a game of cribbage with her sister and walks away with her mother, claims she loves him and hates him at the same time, and sees her future only in her giving birth to more children and in her husband's earning more money. A discontented woman: feels like leaving the house and not saying goodbye to anyone.
Stanley Burnell is the macho: commands the women to serve him by diner, boasts with buying the house cheap, admires his sporty body, and has the place at the head of the table empty and reserved for his son.
Isabel is the boss: thinks the world of herself when her sisters are left standing while she is leaving with her mother in the coach, boasts what she had for diner, informs her mother that Kezia drinks aunt Beryl's tea, and commands her younger sisters. Lottie is together with her younger sister closer to her grandmother than to her neglecting mother. Kezia is the most sensitive of the girls; loves preparing nice surprises for her granny to please her.
Aunt Beryl is a woman of two faces, unable to become the real Beryl and to get rid of her false self which successfully tries to attract Stanley.
The aloe in the garden seems to play a role in the family's life: Kezia asks for the name of the plant to learn it together with the information that it blooms once in a hundred years; Linda's mother believes it is to bloom this year.
AuthorMansfield, Katherine. (1888 - 1923).
First PublishedRichmond: Hogarth Press, 1918.
Mansfield, Katherine. "Prelude". (1918). Collected Stories. London: Constable, 1948.