What does Else’s statement at the end of the story suggest about both the lamp’s symbolic meaning and the story’s theme?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Else's statement at the end of the story was "I seen the little lamp."

Told in a colloquial way, the phrase refers to the fact that she, Else, had the opportunity to look at the miniature lamp that decorates the great dollhouse that the Burnell sisters received as a gift...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Else's statement at the end of the story was "I seen the little lamp."

Told in a colloquial way, the phrase refers to the fact that she, Else, had the opportunity to look at the miniature lamp that decorates the great dollhouse that the Burnell sisters received as a gift from a house guest.

While the phrase may seem simple, it actually means a lot more than it seems. The Kelvey sisters, Else and Lil, are poor and unkempt little girls whose mother is a washer, and their father is presumed to be in jail. As such, they are at the bottom of the social totem pole at their school, where both rich and poor students must share the same space.

Being so far below their social "food chain" means that the Kelveys are the ones left behind for just about everything. When the Burnell sisters receive their dollhouse and they start inviting other little girls to go look at it, the Kelveys were to be off limits.

...the only two who stayed outside the ring were the two who were always outside, the little Kelveys. They knew better than to come anywhere near the Burnells.

The issue with this is that, regardless of their social status or lack of parental support, Else and Lil were still little girls who had the same curiosity, interests, and desires as any other girl.

Therefore, as the other girls would come together to talk about the doll's house and what they liked about it, surely the Kelvey girls wished that they had also seen it and cherished the rare beauty of the doll's house.

The lamp is the one thing about the doll's house that impresses Kezia Burnell the most. The lamp is described this way:

It stood in the middle of the dining room table, an exquisite little amber lamp with a white globe. It was even filled all ready for lighting, though, of course, you couldn’t light it. But there was something inside that looked like oil, and that moved when you shook it.

Kezia loved the lamp because of how real it looked. It was dainty, cute, curious, and most importantly, it "fit" with the rest of the doll's house, whereas the huge, clunky dolls the girls were using to play with it simply did not fit in as well.

Perhaps this is exactly why the lamp was so interesting to Kezia. It was realistic, it could be appreciated by many, but, most importantly, it went with the rest of the house. It fits in. It is universal.

This is interesting considering that Kezia is the only girl who appreciates the universality of the lamp and constantly brings this up, while the rest of the girls do not even seem to notice it. The implication of this is that Kezia is perhaps the only one of the girls who appreciates things that can bring people together because, after all, we all "fit in" together if we make the effort to do so.

This is the reason why Kezia was the only girl who considered asking the Kelveys to come look at the house and at the lamp. She did not care about the status of the Kelveys. She felt that they, too, could fit in just like the rest of the girls, and they, too, could appreciate the beauty of the lamp.

Needless to say that the Burnell's snobby aunt, Beryl, shooed the Kelveys out of the household, running them off as if they were "vermin." While this took place not long after Kezia's invitation, the girls still had the opportunity to see the house, as well as the lamp.

Regardless of the burdens and obstacles surrounding them, the girls did have the very rare chance to see the house. We could argue that the phrase "I seen the little house" is Else's triumphant way to tell the word that, however difficult it was, she had the same chance that everyone else did, after all.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team