The story takes place during Victorian times, based around two sisters whose father had recently died. Mansfield describes the struggles of these two women as they try to express their femininity and overcome the barriers or etiquette and the presence of their father, whom they feared.
The story ends as the sisters Josephine and Constantia attempt to break free of their suppressed world but fail to, thus ending the story in tragedy.
Despite this the path leading to the tragic ending is riddled in humorous moments. Therefore it might be said about the story that is more comic than tragic for the reader.