Study Guide

Kew Gardens Versions of Reality

By Virginia Woolf

Versions of Reality

Buckle your seats, because we're about to get a little trippy in here.

There are lots of different versions of reality at play in "Kew Gardens." Each of the characters is absorbed in his or her own realities, preoccupied by thoughts and memories that isolate them from other characters and enclose them deep within their own interior worlds.

The life of the snail also presents an alternate version of reality: he moves through the same garden as the human but his experience and perspective is vastly different.

Finally, the narrator's impressionistic descriptions of the scene also present a distinct vision of a given reality—one that transcends each individual's experience and sees the scene as a whole. 

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Is the old man's version of reality more or less real than the other characters'?
  2. What does the snail's version of reality add to the story?
  3. Why do you think Woolf takes pains to emphasize these multiple perspectives and experiences? 

Chew on This

Although the characters walk through the same physical space (the space of the garden), they all occupy different psychic realms.

The characters' different versions of reality contribute to their sense of isolation and alienation from other characters. 

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