The Stolen Party
The Differences Between Classes in The Stolen Party by Liliana Heker
The world is made up of a population of shallow people. What matters and is valued in society is not how one behaves, but more so how one stands financially or in social class. The difference in treatment between those different classes is what inspired Liliana Heker to write The Stolen Party, a short story published in 1982. The story follows a maid’s young daughter, Rosaura, and how by experience, learns of the reality concerning her social position. After much argument, Rosaura’s mother allows her to attend her wealthy friend Luciana’s birthday party, despite knowing the consequences of her going. At the party, Rosaura believes that she is being treated specially, with Señora Ines tasking her with jobs that she would not trust the other children to do. She later realizes, however, that she had not been invited to the party as a guest, but as a worker. It does not matter to others how well she behaves as because she is the maid’s daughter, she will never receive the same level of respect or treatment from those of higher class. Through the use of symbolism and conflicts, Heker’s short story The Stolen Party reveals the influence of social class on the received treatment and proves how one’s outward appearance affects the types of relationships they will encounter.
Firstly, Heker uses symbolism to demonstrate the effect of one’s social class on the treatment they receive. For example, throughout the story, the significance of the monkey to Rosaura is made clear to the reader by the constant mentioning of the animal. The symbolism of the monkey and the magician represents the idea of servant and master respectively. This idea is used as a metaphor to describe the relationship between Rosaura and Luciana’s mother, Señora Ines. To explain, as the magician performs his tricks, the monkey is referred to as his ‘partner.’ The monkey is forced to obey every command the magician makes, acting as his servant. To compare, at the end of the party before Rosaura leaves, Señora Ines does not give Rosaura a gift. Instead, she hands her over two bills, stating that “[she] really and truly, earned this, […] [thanking] [her] for all [her] help, [referring to her as] [her] pet” (Heker 5). At the party, Señora Ines commands Rosaura to do certain tasks, such as cut the cake for the guests. Though it seems like a privilege at first, it is later revealed that this was due to the fact that Rosaura had not attended the party as a guest but as a worker. Moreover, the significance of Señora Ines rewarding Rosaura with money describes the miscommunication as a result of social class. It is presumed that Señora Ines was not actively being rude to Rosaura when she “rummaged in her purse. [and] in her hand appeared two bills” (Heker 5), but because of the differences between classes, she assumes that those of lower class want nothing more but money. To those of higher social class, money is the solution to every problem. It is the fault and inequality of social class that leads Rosaura to be treated the way she is in the story.
Furthermore, the conflicts Rosaura faces and the resulting relationships she encounters is the cause of the differences between social class. For instance, during the party, a blonde girl with a bow attending the party as a guest approaches Rosaura, asking her who she is. The naive Rosaura replies, stating that she is a friend of Luciana’s. However, the blonde girl with the bow is not convinced as “[she is] her cousin and [she] [knows] all her friends. And [she] [does not] know [Rosaura]” (Heker 2). Luciana’s cousin then proceeds to question Rosaura of her background and why she is at the party, but Rosaura only says that she is the daughter of the employee as this was what her mother had instructed her to say. This represents the clear division between social classes as though Rosaura believes that she is Luciana’s friend, it is evident that to Luciana, she is simply just the maid’s daughter. Additionally, Rosaura’s relationship with Señora Ines shows the disunity of classes and portrays the reasoning behind the lower class’ hatred on the higher class. When quarrelling with her mother in order to gain permission to attend Luciana’s party, her mother argues that she does not want her going because it is a rich people’s party. Rosaura in turn thought that it was unfair of her mother to accuse other people of being liars simply because they were rich. However it is at the end when Rosaura begins to understand why her mother despised them. Her realization of the unjust treatment she receives as a result of her social class displays in her “cold, clear look that fixed itself on Señora Ines’s face” (Heker 5). Rosaura’s facial expression in this scene represents the acknowledgement of her mother’s words and the understanding that rich people are not the poor’s best friend. As a result, the story exhibits, to a degree, the unlikeliness of friendships forming between those of different social class backgrounds due to the misunderstanding of intent in both parties.
To conclude, The Stolen Party establishes the effect of social class on one’s received treatment and the relationships they face using symbolism and conflicts. The misinterpretation of one’s motive and behaviour towards those of different classes demonstrates the inability for positive relationships to be an outcome in society. Rosaura’s change in personality from the beginning to the end of the story displays how ignorance is bliss, but one will inevitably learn the truth and the pain that follows is the consequence of knowledge. Afterall, as poet Thomas Gray once wrote, where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.
An Analysis of the Characters of Liliana Hecker’s Short Story The Stolen Party
The characters in the short story, The Stolen Party demonstrate striking differences in their values and beliefs. Each character displays unique traits. It is these unique traits, which illustrate different aspects of society. Each character then, represents a portion of the values and beliefs of todays society.
Rosaura is the main character of this writing. The story revolves around her from start to finish. Rosaura is an inexperienced young girl. This story opens with an argument between Rosaura and her mother. Rosaura wants to go to Lucianas birthday party. Luciana is in a wealthy family so Rosauras mother disapproves of her daughters attending the party. In the first few sentences the author makes it evident that Rosaura is financially challenged. Rosauras mother says, I dont like you going because it is a rich peoples party. This one sentence already tells me that they are probably not very wealthy. In addition Rosaura is an inexperienced young girl. She is not tarnished by the belief that everyone should be judged according to his or her financial worth. She, unlike her mother, judges people by who they are and not by how much money they have. When Rosauras mother states, you should not fart higher than your own ass she shows that she feels below those who are wealthy. Rosauras argument shows that she does not feel bound by her financial status. Her financial state isnt even an issue to her. She says that she wants to go because she is a friend of Luciana and because she was invited. The author also demonstrates Rosauras openness in the first few paragraphs of the story. Since Rosaura is only nine years old she has no prior experience of prejudice. She does not realize that her mother might be right about her assumption that not everyone will accept her at the party and treat her with the same respect.
The author begins the story by demonstrating how much Rosauras mother loathes the rich. Her disapproval of her daughters attending the birthday party, expresses some hidden anger and maybe even jealousy towards those who are wealthy. Rosauras mother feels lower than Luceanas family. She feels that a persons financial status determines whom a person can associate with. The author eventually reveals that Rosauras mother is a maid. Because her job does not pay very high wages she feels inferior to Lucianas family. Her feelings of hostility toward the wealthy might come from years of prejudice. Rosauras mother constantly feels bound by her financial situation. Rosauras mother does not want her daughter going to the party because she is the daughter of humble maid. She feels that her daughter will not be looked upon as an equal, no matter what. Rosauras mother states, That ones not your friend. You know what you are to them? The maids daughter, thats what. But no matter how strongly Rosauras mother feels about this, she is willing to let her daughter go to the party. This demonstrates the unconditional love she has for her daughter.
There are some characters in this story that are not developed as well as Rosaura and her mother. One of these characters is Luciana. Luciana is very similar to Rosaura in that she sees everyone as an equal. She does not consider Rosaura to be different from any of her other friends. She never considers Rosauras financial situation to be important. She treats Rosaura like all of her other friends.
Another character, which is not covered in depth, is Lucianas cousin. She is brought into this story through an argument with Rosaura. Lucianas cousin doesnt know Rosaura but she feels inclined to start an argument with her anyway. Lucianas cousin begins to question Rosaura. She questions the fact that Rosaura is a friend of Luciana. Lucianas cousin seems to think that she is better than Rosaura. This shows the reader the first clues that Rosauras mother could have been right about wealthy people not accepting Rosaura.
Another character that is only introduced briefly is the magician. The author does not get into his personality or values but it is made clear that he sees all of the children as equal.
The last character that is introduced is Senora Ines. Once again the author does not develop her in depth. The author places her in the story in order to demonstrate the prejudice, which Rosauras mother had described. Senora Ines offers Rosaura money at the end of the party rather than a small gift. This demonstrates to Rosaura that she is, in fact, looked upon as being different from the other children.
Each character in this story demonstrates an aspect of society today. Rosaura signifies the unsuspecting poor child. She represents the fact that a person usually does not develop stereotypes until they have experienced many of the aspects of life. Rosauras mother is placed in the story to illustrate another fact about todays society. Rosauras mother demonstrates that society influences the way a person thinks. She shows that from years of experience she has developed a pattern of stereotyping wealthy people. Luciana represents the wealthy part of society that does not see less fortunate people as being different. She, like Rosaura, does not stereotype people because of their financial worth. Lucianas cousin, on the other hand, demonstrates that part of the wealthy population that feels superior to the financially challenged. The magician in this story represents someone like a priest or a charity worker. He sees all of the kids at the party as equals. He is willing to let any of them participate in his magic. Senora Ines plays the part of society that feels obligated to offer charity to those who are less fortunate.
The author not only writes a very interesting story but also provides an important message regarding society. People are too concerned with money in todays society. If we could all remain innocent (such as Rosaura and Luciana) and never become prejudice towards others the world would be a better place. Everyone would be judged according to who they are and not by what they posses.
Inequalities in the Social Class Structure in The Stolen Party, a Short Story by Liliana Heker
The Stolen Party; Stolen Meaning
“The Stolen Party” is, unfortunately, a story without a happy ending. Much like works such as The Great Gatsby or 1984, the lack of any definitive victory for the protagonist helps to drive home the point. The title of the story is only truly important after reading the last three paragraphs, in which Rosaura is paid for simply being a waiter at the party, and is given neither a gift nor the recognition of being Luciana’s friend. She is simply another maid for Senora Ines- and that is all that invitation was for. She may have had the time of her life at that party; been made a countess, seen the monkey, had the attention of every boy and girl when she got to hand out the cake- but in the end, it was as though none of that mattered, because her true image in the eyes of Senora Ines had destroyed everything joyful that party had built up within her. The party, in this context, had been stolen from Rosaura by the ignorance of Senora Ines.
The behavior of Senora Ines is an excellent example of someone restricted to a perspective that only views people by class. Being in the uppermost class, she can only see Rosaura for what she is in the most general of terms, a poor young daughter of a maid. Rosaura is more than this, and reading from her perspective we understand that- but in a very socially stratified society such as this, what you are born into is something you simply cannot escape. The lower class can, in some manner of speaking, coexist with the upper class. Though, by Senora Ines actions, we can deduce that in the end it can be two wildly different incentives for such a society to function as such.
At the party, Rosaura is practically interrogated by Luciana’s friends, being asked how she could possibly know Luciana and just what exactly her mother does, and only shown respect when she either holds the cake or when her pseudo-employer Senora Ines is using her for more menial labor (which Rosaura mistakes for friendly assistance and rewards for good behavior). So, within this society, the poor are only respected when there is a gain for the upper class- something not uncommon in social stratification. Essentially, the rich do what they must to remain rich, and the poor continuously struggle to either just get by or to somehow beat the odds and pull ahead. Rosaura does a little of both, unwittingly serves the rich in staying satisfied, and desperately dreams of becoming what she is currently serving cake to. Her mother is a hardened, angry woman- and as the story progresses it becomes more and more clear why that is.
Social class structure is the key point to this piece, the theme of which being that you will always be what you started as. It’s driven in by Senora Ines’ behavior at the party, the tasks Rosaura performs, the crushing truth in the final three paragraphs, all of it. The story through and through is one in which a lower class girl strives to be accepted in the eyes of the upper class, but just when she thinks that is what she has earned, it is made clear that all she is to them is the daughter of a maid, born to pursue her mother’s footsteps. This event may have changed Rosarua, forever distorting her perception of both her class and Luciana’s class. She could go on believing that Luciana is her friend, she could even still want to be someone better than her mother, but she could also be skewed by Senora Ines’ treatment- forever resenting the upper class and viewing her station in the social ladder as a permanent status. She may end up trying less hard in school, not searching hard enough for a job, or may choose to live by her mother’s side for as long as she can- because now it would seem her mother was right, you can’t trust the rich. Inversely, though, this could have a positive effect. There are those who see their circumstances as too much to endure when they see there’s something better, and sometimes those people chase that better life. Rosaura could be one of those people who escapes the poverty stricken class she comes from, and could eventually find herself accepted at these kinds of events, perhaps in a future where her past is obscured by her success.
The inequality of this society’s (and really all societies) social class system is deeply rooted in the basis of human behavior. There’s a natural drive for people to take advantage of one another if it keeps them on top, and there’s always a need to be better than what you started with. This point is expressed by a certain balance described in the final sentence: “As if the slightest change might shatter an indefinitely delicate balance.” This quote is almost disturbing in how true it is. The balance here, is an equilibrium maintained by keeping the lower class where they are. After all, were it not for the extortion of lower classes and the excessive tokens given to those better off, families like Luciana’s probably would not be where they are in the story. Since Rosaura’s mother was a servant, it was as though Senora Ines couldn’t see her as anything but a servant. She actually goes as far as to call her “my pet”, just demeaning her to the point that she might as well have called her “help” throughout the affair. Conflict theory might be the best way to explain this behavior- the perspective through which the elite manipulate the poor and weak.
Through this sociological perspective, it can be inferred there is some sort of esoteric knowledge amongst the upper class in this story’s society: the underclass are tools. Rosaura hasn’t seen enough of the world to understand this, which is why she adamantly refuses to accept it from her mother and violently reacts to the first child who treats her like a secondhand tool of the household. It’s a foreign concept to her that she could be treated that way, and she doesn’t even realize the magnitude of her treatment until the very last straw, when Senora Ines shatters the illusory glass of this poor young child. Rosaura had established an alternate explanation for how she was treated all through the day, because in her own mind she wanted to see that her mother was wrong- that she could escape the stigma of being poor. The child she kicked in the shins was, in Rosaura’s mind, just a mean person. This is why the monkey was the first focal point of the story, why she was so proud to tell her mother she had been called a countess. It’s also why her mother flinched and hesitated when Rosaura was to be given something. Her mother grew up likely the same way as Rosaura herself did, with dashed hopes of escaping a label that distinguishes one so far from others. When Senora Ines displayed her true nature and her honest view of Rosaura, she did it without any remorse. She acted as though her usage of a child who simply wanted to fit in and have friends was to be expected when dealing with her class- after all, she’s the daughter of a maid, and treating her like she’s anything better than that would break the delicate balance that holds a society like this together. It’s delicate in the sense that some people like Rosaura go their entire lives believing they can escape poverty, only to die without understanding they never truly progressed in the eyes of the elite, and that they only served to perpetuate a society that stacks the odds in the favor of those who cheat.