|Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murray
The Reading Life Katherine Mansfield Project
"This Flower" by Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923-New Zealand) was originally published in 1920 and was included in the 1924 collection of her work edited by her husband, John Middleton Murray, Something Childish and other Stories.
Toward the end of Mansfield's way too short life her existence became centered around doctors as she searched for a cure for her tuberculous. The characters in "This Flower" are a couple and the woman's doctor. The woman has just had a visit from the doctor for a potentially very serious problem. We do not learn what the issue may be (it might be something as simple as confirming a pregnancy or it might be for a very serious issue). We see that the doctor in the story is not held in high esteem at all.
"This Flower" is not at all a traditionally plotted short story. We simply see what happens in a brief segment of the lives of two people we do not know a great deal about.
I really liked the opening lines of the story. It is as if the narrator has achieved an understanding of a cosmic life force. This is fully in accord with the views of people that influenced Mansfield like D H Lawrence and
AS she lay there, looking up at the ceiling, she had her moment—yes, she had her moment! And it was not connected with anything she had thought or felt before, not even with those words the doctor had scarcely ceased speaking. It was single, glowing, perfect; it was like—a pearl, too flawless to match with another … Could she describe what happened? Impossible. It was as though, even if she had not been conscious (and she certainly had not been conscious all the time) that she was fighting against the stream of life—the stream of life indeed!— she had suddenly ceased to struggle. Oh, more than that! She had yielded, yielded absolutely, down to every minutest pulse and nerve, and she had fallen into the bright bosom of the stream and it had borne her …It can be read online at the web page of the Katherine Mansfield Society.