Narrated from a third-person limited omniscient perspective, “The Stolen Party” opens with Rosaura, the story’s protagonist, arriving at a birthday party. She goes to the kitchen to confirm that there is a monkey there. Rosaura’s mother had doubted that there would be a monkey present at the party, and Rosaura is relieved to know her mother had been wrong.
The narrator digresses to fill the reader in on the conversation Rosaura and her mother had before Rosaura came to the party. Rosaura’s mother says she doesn’t want Rosaura to attend because it is a rich person’s party. When Rosaura says rich people go to Heaven too, her mother says it has nothing to do with heaven: Rosaura simply likes to “fart higher than [her] ass.” Rosaura disapproves of her mother’s coarse phrase. The narrator comments that Rosaura is nine years old and one of the best students in her class.
Rosaura defends her desire to attend the party by saying she was invited because Luciana, the birthday girl, is her friend. Rosaura’s mother tells Rosaura that Luciana is not her friend. To Luciana’s family, Rosaura is merely the maid’s daughter. Rosaura blinks hard to prevent herself from crying and yells at her mother to shut up, accusing her of knowing nothing about friends. The narrator comments that Rosaura and Luciana used to spend every afternoon finishing their homework together while Rosaura’s mother cleaned the house. Rosaura and Luciana drank tea and told each other secrets. Rosaura loves the big house and the people and objects it contains.
Rosaura tells her mother the party will be the most lovely party in the world, and that Luciana said there will be a magician who will bring a monkey. Rosaura’s mother offends Rosaura by telling her a monkey at a party is nonsense. Rosaura thinks it is unfair to accuse other people of being liars simply because they are rich. Rosaura herself wants to be rich, and she wonders whether, if she lived in a big palace one day, her mother would stop loving her.
Rosaura is very sad: she wants to go to the party more than anything in the world. She whispers that she’ll die if she doesn’t go. She isn’t sure if her mother hears her, but on the day of the party, Rosaura finds that her mother has starched her Christmas dress. Rosaura’s mother washes Rosaura’s hair with apple cider vinegar to make it shine. Rosaura looks at herself in the mirror and thinks she looks very pretty with her white dress and glossy hair.
Luciana’s mother, Señora Ines, notices too, commenting on how lovely Rosaura looks when she arrives at the party. Rosaura walks confidently into the house and asks Luciana about the monkey. Luciana whispers to her that she should not tell anyone, but the monkey is in the kitchen. Rosaura enters the kitchen carefully and finds the monkey in its cage, looking as though it is deep in thought.
As the party progresses, Rosaura slips away to look at the monkey. Rosaura is the only child allowed in the kitchen. Señora Ines says the other children are too boisterous and that they might break something. Rosaura has never broken anything. She even carries a large jug of orange juice from the kitchen to the dining room without spilling a drop.
“The Stolen Party” opens with the surreal image of a monkey sitting caged in a kitchen. The monkey is symbolic: as whimsical as his presence at the party may seem to Rosaura, ultimately the monkey is there to serve as the magician’s assistant. This dynamic symbolizes Rosaura’s own presence at the party: while she may think herself a regular or even superior guest, it will turn out that she has been invited to help serve the other guests. Like the monkey, she is exploited for her lack of understanding of the situation and made to labor.
During Rosaura’s conversation with her mother about going to the party, Heker introduces each of the story’s major themes. The theme of class difference and economic inequality arises in the way Herminia disapproves of her working-class daughter associating with rich people. Rosaura’s innocence arises when she replies that even rich people go to Heaven, as the line exposes her naïve and idealistic belief that the world is fair.
Shame enters the narrative when Rosaura reacts to her mother’s crude accusation that Rosaura likes to “fart higher than [her] ass,” by which Herminia means Rosaura is pompous and thinks herself better than she is. The theme of merit—the quality of being good or worthy and thus deserving praise or reward—arises when Rosaura defends herself against her mother’s accusation of pomposity by reminding herself that she is one of the best students in her class. As the conversation escalates, her mother tells Rosaura that Luciana is not her friend, simultaneously reminding her daughter that despite what she thinks, she cannot escape her working-class identity as the daughter of Luciana’s family’s maid.
Privately, Rosaura wishes to have a big house like Luciana; in this instance, Rosaura wonders if her mother’s contempt for rich people would lead her to stop loving Rosaura if Rosaura became rich one day. The thought reveals again Rosaura’s sense of shame and implicit understanding of class difference: although she is only nine, Rosaura understands herself to have aspirations that would put her beyond her mother’s socioeconomic class and she feels ashamed of her desire for wealth and power.
Although her mother clearly disapproves of Rosaura attending the party, the conflict is resolved not with words but gestures: Rosaura finds that her mother has starched her formal dress and made Rosaura’s hair look glossy and clean. At the party, Rosaura is relieved to know that her mother had been wrong about the monkey being nonsense. The section ends with Rosaura, in her effort to demonstrate her merit, beginning to help Luciana’s mother serve drinks. Rosaura understands herself as superior to the other children, who cannot be trusted. She is too innocent to understand that she is being encouraged to labor while the other children are expected only to play.