The Egg as a Symbol—an Analysis of Sherwood Anderson’s Short Story “the Egg”

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Abstract: This paper intends to analyze the image of egg in Sherwood Anderson’s famous short story The Egg. Contextual details having been carefully dealt with, various symbolic meanings of the egg are finally revealed.  Key Words: the egg, Sherwood, image, symbol

Sherwood Anderson, an American writer, is less famous compared with other great writers. However, he wins readers’ love by his graceful, smooth writing, and the most important of all, by his careful description of common people's life, their loneliness and frustration, and of events in small towns. A good case in point is The Egg, one of his best works. The story is about a three-person family living near a small town, Bidwell Ohio and their desire to make success in life. Anderson uses his title- the egg as the central image which binds the entire story together and provides a vehicle for his interpretation of life. A brief analysis of the egg image in the short story reveals various symbolic meanings.

A. Egg stands for grotesque-breeder
In The Egg, an epitome of his philosophy of grotesques, Anderson claims: “Grotesques are born out of eggs as out of people.” The egg not only gives birth to “a chicken… that has four legs, two pairs of wings, two heads or what not” but a mind-twisted man changing from a former “cheerful, kindly” farm-hand to a “bald-headed” “habitually silent and discouraged” chicken-farmer. Immersed in his morbid interest and fantasy, the father preserves “all the little monstrous things in alcohol” by putting “each in its own glass bottle” and dreams of “taking the wonder about to county fairs and of growing rich by exhibiting it to other farmhands.” The pathetic figure has no awareness that he himself, just like his little grotesques, is being on show in front of other people. Unfortunately, the father is not the only grotesque born out of the egg, as “mother smiled at the boarders and I, catching the infection, smiled at our cat.” Trying to work themselves up the social...
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