Can you summarize "Ordeal by Cheque" using an onion analogy?

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“Ordeal by Cheque” by Wurther Crue is a strange little “story” that tells the life of a family through a series of cheques. There are no words of interpretation or explanation, and we are left to make our own decisions about the meaning of the cheques. We can make some educated inferences, so let’s do so.

The cheques begin with references to a baby. They are made out for baby clothes, to a doctor (presumably for delivery), and to a toy store. The account owner, Lawrence Exeter, begins adding “Sr.” to his name, so we know that the baby is a son who is named for his father.

The next set of cheques are school-related. One of them is to a military academy, suggesting that the boy may have gotten himself into some trouble, for which his parents believe he needs further discipline. The father seems to buy his son a car, a Cadillac no less, but only four days later, he makes a out cheque to a repair shop. Junior has already had an accident.

There are several cheques made out to young women for large amounts, suggesting that Junior is a ladies’ man who is finding plenty of trouble with lovers, and his father is paying them off. Apparently the young man also spends some time in France. His father buys him a house at one point, and the son decorates it lavishly, with his father footing the bill. Junior also seems to have expensive taste in clothing and gifts for his lady friends. The cheques are also made out to lawyers periodically, so there are legal problems.

Apparently, Junior doesn’t live to see thirty years old, for the last cheques in the series are to the hospital and the mortuary. His fast life has caught up with him.

Now let’s think for a moment on the onion analogy. The onion analogy can actually refer to a few different techniques, but since conflict stands at the heart of this story, we’ll use the onion model that relates to conflict analysis. On the outer layer is a what a person claims to want, their position. Here Junior wants cars and women and fancy things. Beneath the external, however, lie the true interests. For Junior, these seem to be wealth, status, and sex. At the center of the onion, we find a person’s true needs. In this case, what Junior may really need is discipline. His father keeps bailing him out of tight spots, but Junior needs to stand on his own two feet and handle his own problems.

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