"The Stolen Party" and Other Stories

"The Stolen Party" and Other Stories Themes

Social Class and Economic Inequality

The prejudice that arises from differences in social class and socioeconomic status is the central theme of "The Stolen Party." While Rosaura prefers to believe she has been invited to Luciana's party because the girls are friends, Rosaura's mother insists that she was invited because she is their maid's daughter. Rosaura resists the implication that she and her mother exist on a lower societal rung as a result of her mother's employment as a maid. But despite Rosaura's desire to participate in the party as a regular guest, her presence is questioned by Luciana's cousin. Señora Ines also enforces Rosaura's class position by having Rosaura assist in serving drinks and cake, which she rewards with cash rather than the parting gifts the other children receive. Señora Ines's reluctance to withdraw her offer of money even when Rosaura and her mother are evidently offended proves how deeply notions of class difference have penetrated Ines's understanding of the world, to the extent that even her child's birthday party must remain socially segregated. Ultimately, the experience confirms Rosaura's mother's belief that Rosaura would be treated differently than other children. Despite her attempts to warn her daughter, Rosaura's mother is unable to prevent Rosaura from experiencing the insult of being treated as low-status.


Rosaura's staunch belief that her friendship with Luciana is genuine exposes her idealistic and innocent view of the world. Despite her mother constantly reminding Rosaura of her place in society, Rosaura sticks with her trust in equality and friendship. Until the end of the story, Rosaura believes she is on the same level as all the other children at the party, even convincing herself briefly that her excellent behavior will be rewarded with both a yo-yo and a bracelet. However, Rosaura's innocence is shattered when Señora Ines proves to Rosaura that she was invited to the party as an employee and not a guest. Heker also conveys the theme of innocence in how the boys, who do not know of Rosaura's socioeconomic status, treat her as they do each other. Like Rosaura, they have not lived long enough to assimilate the prejudiced attitudes that hierarchical societies implicitly promulgate.


Another of the story's major themes is shame. At the beginning of the story, Rosaura is embarrassed by her mother's crass phrases and self-limiting attitude. Rosaura prefers to distance herself from her mother and their low social status by focusing on her own status as one of the best students in her classroom and fantasizing about one day owning a palace and being rich. Rosaura's mother accuses Rosaura of thinking herself better than she is and warns her about associating with rich people. While Rosaura's mother's treatment of her daughter may initially come across as teasing, by the end of the story it is clear that she was trying to protect her daughter from feeling ashamed of who she is. Rosaura's mother is well aware of the prejudice that derives from class difference, and so she advises Rosaura to tell anyone who asks that she is the daughter of "the employee" and "proud of it." Rosaura is too ashamed to be so boastful, revealing that she is not proud of her mother's status as a maid. In the end, Rosaura's attempts to protect her daughter's feelings are thwarted when Luciana's mother tries to pay Rosaura for helping during the party. The gesture confirms Rosaura's mother's suspicion that Rosaura's desire to associate with rich people will lead to treatment that will precipitate shame.


Merit—the quality of being particularly good or worthy and thus deserving reward or praise—is another of the story's major themes. While Rosaura's mother understands her and her daughter's social status as being predetermined by economic inequality, Rosaura's outlook is meritocratic: she believes that her good behavior and competitive excellence will result in rewards and kudos. Rosaura is careful to perform every task Señora Ines asks of her with care and a positive attitude; while waiting to leave the party, Rosaura momentarily believes her helpfulness and talent in the party games means she merits both a yo-yo and a bracelet. However, her idealistic vision of a meritocratic world is shattered by Señora Ines, who hands her cash in a gesture that treats her as an employee, thereby reinforcing a hierarchal social structure organized along lines of class position and economic status.