Oliver Bacon, the jeweller, has everything and nothing—his life is a paradox. He has wealth, possessions, jewels, and the respect and envy of others.
Yet, his life is empty, because he has no one to share it with. Diana, the daughter of the Duchess, is the object of his desire. She also becomes his Achilles heel: once the Duchess invites him to her estate for the weekend, Oliver ultimately pays for the pearls without having their authenticity checked. He hopes to see Diana, so he writes the check for twenty thousand, despite a suspicious feeling that gnaws at him, since the Duchess has lied to him before. Oliver is so lonely and so in love with Diana that he takes the chance, “For … it is to be a long week-end.”
Also, Oliver seems to show an insecurity, as if he were that poor little boy he used to be; he often thinks of his mother, imagining her reprimanding him for selling stolen dogs. He remembers his mother chiding him for having no sense. Although he has everything now, he “dismantled himself often” by feelings of being that little boy who had nothing. Feelings of insecurity follow him as he thinks back to the disgrace of poverty. No matter how wealthy he becomes, inside he is still the same.
Additionally, no matter how much Oliver has, he always wants more. He is not satisfied with having turned misfortune into fortune. Woolf compares him to a hog seeking truffles:
after unearthing this truffle and that, still it smells a bigger, a blacker truffle under the ground further off. So Oliver snuffed always in the rich earth of Mayfair another truffle, a blacker, a bigger further off.
Oliver thinks about his life and recognizes that he is dissatisfied and sad. The wealth and prestige of being England’s wealthiest jeweler will never be enough.