In Sherwood Anderson's 1920 short story "The Egg," the egg symbolizes a family's hopes and dreams. An egg represents a potential new life, and Anderson observes that hopes and dreams can come to fruition, be dashed, or be imperfectly realized.
The narrator's family struggles along as chicken farmers for a decade before giving it up to embark on a new dream. The father keeps "grotesques," malformed chicks, in jars in hopes of making money by showing them to other people. He opens a restaurant, and his attention turns to making eggs for diners, who fail to materialize. Again, the dream that the egg symbolizes fails to deliver the successful business he has envisioned.
Ultimately, the father tries to captivate his customers by performing tricks with eggs, such as standing them on end or forcing them through the neck of a bottle. In the end, he is defeated, and the narrator observes that the egg has triumphed over his family instead of fulfilling their aspirations.