Wodehouse uses dogs and flowers to symbolize the clichéd sentimentality that is expected of female novelists in the story. When first describing Egbert’s job as an assistant editor frequently tasked with interviewing female novelists, the narrator specifically notes that Egbert “had watched them being kind to dogs and happiest among their flowers”—in his mind, moments that serve to epitomize their silly emotionality in comparison with more serious (and, it’s clearly implied, male) authors. Egbert despises these novelists because of this tendency toward romance and lack of originality. Dogs and flowers appear again at the end of the story when Egbert interviews his ex-fiancée, Evangeline, whom he views as lacking any literary talent whatsoever. In this scene, however, Egbert is the one who brings up both objects in his questions, and Evangeline provides the expected responses without seeming very interested. This suggests that it is Egbert himself who projects certain stereotypes onto the female novelists he despises; he doesn’t consider the possibility that they might have something more interesting to say about their writing, and instead falls back upon a distinctly sentimental line of questioning. By employing this symbol in two different contexts, Wodehouse shows that sentimentality is not an intrinsic trait of women writers but rather an expectation created by social convention and popular literary tastes.
Dogs and Flowers Quotes in Best Seller
For six months, week in and week out, Egbert Mulliner had been listening to female novelists talking about Art and their Ideals. He had seen them in cosy corners in their boudoirs, had watched them being kind to dogs and happiest when among their flowers. And one morning the proprietor of The Booklover, finding the young man sitting at his desk with little flecks of foam about his mouth and muttering over and over again in a dull, toneless voice the words, “Aurelia McGoggin, she draws her inspiration from the scent of white lilies!” had taken him straight off to a specialist.
“Oh, quite,” said Evangeline. “I will send out for a dog. I love dogs—and flowers.”
“You are happiest among your flowers, no doubt?”
“On the whole, yes.”
“You sometimes think they are the souls of little children who have died in their innocence?”