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From: StoneOx17@aol.com
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 21:54:21 EDT
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: egg and intrigue

Adam Stephanides writes, in response to my posting on the egg hunt:

> 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
> account.

Even though a substantial part of her income comes from her brother, Olivia's 
a fairly well-off woman with expensive tastes (Pekinese, scientific 
journals, etc.), so she's much more likely to have a checkbook than a typical 
woman from that era.  However, the best argument for her having a checkbook 
is the irony that her act of leaving the checkbook at home so as to have a 
good excuse to stop bidding is the very act that lets Em Lorn find a way to 
give the egg to the lower bidder.

> > 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).

I thought I'd reread the relevant parts just before my posting, but clearly 
not carefully enough.  I think the sewing machine still manages to set
a ballpark price for the egg, without Eleanor Bold ever having to talk
about anything so distasteful as money.

> > 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.

It's still petty, but now it's a reason I can believe in, as opposed to the 
previous pettiness.

> Now my own thoughts upon rereading the egg and Macafee passages:
 > 1) ...

Here I've deleted some very good points Adam makes. 

> 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.

I somehow got the impression that Olivia was leaning toward Macafee from
the adult Weer's conversation from Stewart Blaine, but upon rereading this
passage, I think I may have been reading too much into it.  

> 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.

I was interpreting the princess's reason as saying Olivia thought Macafee 
cared too much about money and material goods, like the egg, and too
little about Olivia.  This is indeed quite hypocritical on Olivia's part, but 
think not out of character.

Finally, I'd like to comment that even if Olivia did realize at the time that 
Macafee could have made his check out to cash, and avoided Em Lorn's
restrictions, I don't see how she could have mentioned this to Macafee.
She's been trapped by her own machinations.

-- Stone Ox


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