Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Much of the power of “The Egg” comes from the narrator’s ability to articulate the inner life of his father. This difference between father and son becomes indirectly the subject of a passage in which the narrator explains his father’s decision to become cheerful:It was father’s notion that a passion for the company of himself and mother would spring up in the breasts of the younger people of the town of Bidwell. . . . They would troop shouting with joy and laughter into our place. There would be joy and festivity. I do not mean to give the impression that father spoke so elaborately of the matter. He was as I have said an uncommunicative man. “They want some place to go. I tell you they want some place to go,” he said over and over. That was as far as he got. My own imagination has filled in the blanks.

The father’s repetitive statement reveals in a rough and untutored way his simple urge toward a better life. However, he is not more able to carry out this urge in action than he is able to express it in words. In fact, the urge itself, the ambition to rise in life, leads him out of his natural element—the rural and masculine life of a farmhand—and into the urban, feminine, and civilized town life that requires a greater complexity of mind, speech, and social savvy than he possesses.

In contrast, the son imagines in detail what his father could only minimally verbalize. This act of imagination joins the father and son, for...

(The entire section is 412 words.)