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Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 12:09:23 -0500
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: egg and intrigue
From: Adam Stephanides 

A very interesting post, which motivated me to look at those passages again
myself.  A couple of comments:

on 9/14/02 5:10 PM, StoneOx17@aol.com at StoneOx17@aol.com wrote:

> When they go to look at the egg, Aunt Olivia leaves her checkbook at home
> and brings cash; this way she ensures that Mr. Macafee (who, she knows, will
> bring his checkbook) will be able to outbid her.

Do we know that Olivia has a checkbook?  I don't know whether a woman living
alone in a small town in 1929 would have automatically had a checking

> She knows the price of the
> egg
> already -- the cost of a good sewing machine -- and she brings enough to bid
> the price substantially above that.

It's a minor point, but the sewing machine is just one of the things Em Lorn
plans to buy with the money from the egg (p. 78, Harper & Row hc).

> Two questions come to mind: Did Mr. Macafee realize this at the time, but
> fail to mention it because he wanted Olivia to give him the egg for his
> birthday?
> Does Olivia believe he realized it at the time?  If she does, this is a
> somewhat
> better reason for refusing to marry him, and further, this reason corresponds
> well to that given in the embedded tale of the princess: that "the heavy
> purse 
> hanging from his belt bruised her each time they embraced."

But she'd been trying to outmaneuver him.  If she refused to marry him just
because he'd outsmarted her, it still seems pretty petty.

Now my own thoughts upon rereading the egg and Macafee passages:

1) Olivia claims that Macafee's true intent was to prevent her from bidding
against him, by letting her think he planned to give it to her, and then to
actually give her something else more expensive (but less desirable).  But
we have no evidence for this aside from Olivia's assertion.  And surely it
would be look rather awkward for Macafee to withhold the egg after he'd
publicly stated he planned to give it to her, especially since it seems to
be public knowledge that she covets the egg.

I suspect that Olivia herself doesn't believe this.  Her true motive for
bidding up the price is that, as an independent woman, she dislikes feeling
dependent on Macafee.  The Nankeen Nook, she can tell herself, benefits
Macafee as well as herself; but to be given the egg is too much.  At the
same time, she doesn't want to pass up the egg.  By arranging things so
that, instead of being given the egg freely, she has "forced" Macafee to
give it to her (at least in her own eyes), she can have her cake and eat it

2) Is there any indication that Olivia ever intended to marry Macafee in the
first place, any more than she did the other two suitors?  I get the
impression that she's happy to keep her suitors on a string indefinitely.
Perhaps she won't marry Macafee because she feels that married to such a
substantial, almost patriarchal, citizen, she would be too dependent.  This
would accord even better with the princess's reason for not marrying the
merchant in the embedded tale.



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