What is the significance of Mr. Peterson's knowledge of "The Gold-Bug" story in Avi's The Man Who Was Poe?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Avi's The Man Who Was Poe, the fact that Mr. Peterson has read Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Gold-Bug" shows us that Mr. Peterson is well-acquainted with who the author is and his abilities.  Poe is gifted with the skills of observation and critical thinking that allow him to solve complex mysteries as well as to write them. Hence, as soon as Mr. Peterson finds out who Poe really is, Mr. Peterson begins worrying about his plans with Mr. Rachett being foiled, and the two partners in crime take further actions that make it more difficult for Poe and Edmund to find Edmund's sister.

"The Gold-Bug" was an award-winning short story Edgar Allan Poe submitted for a contest in 1843. The mystery thriller depicts a search for pirated gold, and the clues to the gold's whereabouts are hidden in an elaborately coded message that must be deciphered. The hunt for gold parallels the theft of gold that serves as Mr. Rachett and Mr. Peterson's motive for kidnapping and murder. Mr. Rachett and Mr. Peterson apparently felt so inspired by Poe's story of gold theft that they decided to imitate Poe by communicating with each other in the code Poe developed for his own secret message within his short story.

Mr. Rachett and Mr. Peterson felt that their plans were going splendidly until the day Poe poses as a "private investigator from the Lowell Insurance Company" and shows up at the Providence Bank, the bank from which the gold was stolen (p. 75). After Mr. Peterson, a clerk at the bank, shows Poe, calling himself Mr. Grey, around the vault, he receives a message from Mr. Prachett warning him that Mr. Grey is really Poe. Knowing how clever Poe is and fearing that he has figured everything out, Mr. Rachett and Mr. Peterson make plans to leave the city, taking Edmund's sister with them.