Best Seller


P.G. Wodehouse

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Dogs and Flowers Symbol Analysis

Dogs and Flowers Symbol Icon

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

The Best Seller quotes below all refer to the symbol of Dogs and Flowers. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Portrayal of Women Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Overlook Press edition of Best Seller published in 2003.
Best Seller Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Egbert Mulliner
Related Symbols: Dogs and Flowers
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:

“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?”


Related Characters: Egbert Mulliner, Evangeline Pembury
Related Symbols: Dogs and Flowers
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
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Dogs and Flowers Symbol Timeline in Best Seller

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dogs and Flowers appears in Best Seller. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Best Seller
The Portrayal of Women Theme Icon
...of whom want to talk about “Art and their Ideals” and how much they love dogs and flowers.  This task would take “its toll on the physique of all but the... (full context)
The Portrayal of Women Theme Icon He begins his interview with a series of standard questions: “Are you fond of dogs, Miss Pembury?” “You are happiest among your flowers, no doubt?” She provides the expected answers... (full context)