Study Guide

Kew Gardens Memory and the Past

By Virginia Woolf

Memory and the Past

If "Kew Gardens" had a theme song, we imagine it'd be something like "The Way We Were," by Barbara Streisand. You know the lyrics—it's a classic:

Memories light the corner of my mind

During their walk through the garden, many characters in the story—especially the older characters—are haunted by memories of the past and of their youth. The garden setting seems to inspire this tendency to reminisce, and many characters become immersed in their own interior worlds as they contemplate the past. 

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why do you think so many characters in this story think about the past?
  2. What kind of relationship does the story draw between nature and memory?
  3. How would you characterize the characters' reflections on the past? (Are they nostalgic? Romantic? Regretful?)

Chew on This

Flowers and butterflies have a tendency to send Woolf's characters into dreamy rememberings.

The garden in full bloom makes characters remember their youth, when they were in their full "bloom" as well. 

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