Throughout Fay’s letters, the bread rolls that her sister Enid bakes for her husband, Edward, symbolize the difficulty in separating art from reality. The crux of the conflict between Fay and her sister Enid lies with these rolls; Enid habitually sets the dough to rise before going to bed so that he can have fresh bread in the morning, a process that Fay depicts in one of her novels. Enid perceives Fay’s writing as critical toward her, and Edward and is angry at being portrayed unfavorably, even though Fay insists that the character in the book is not meant to represent Enid. The bread rolls come up frequently as a shorthand for a tense relationship that can exist between a writer and those close to her. Fay argues that although novelists borrow details from reality, their true task is invention rather than description, and she is annoyed that Enid refuses to believe she invented the character in the book. Additionally, the bread rolls add nuance to the book’s theme of feminism, as they show a wife completing an act that could either be subservient or simply loving, depending on the viewer’s interpretation.
Bread Rolls Quotes in Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen
You are not the model for Chloe in Female Friends. Too many of my friends claim that role, in any case, for you to be able to do so sensibly. Any woman who waits upon her husband as a servant upon a master—and they are legion—all too easily sees herself in Chloe. But I made her up. I promise.
As if it were decreed that your mother Enid should put bread rolls to rise every night for your father Edward’s breakfast, in order that a certain paragraph in a certain novel should be written. As if the City of Invention, little by little, using a chapter here, a paragraph there, is waking from its slumber and will eventually be more real than life itself, and we its servants, its outrunners.
Journalists, in particular, who work so cleverly from the real world, understand description, but not invention. It is not surprising. They lose their jobs if they do invent—novelists get sued if they don’t invent. So I, Grace, D’Albier, must go round the world, stared at as a victim of paternal and maternal incest: and though my parents still speak to me, they do so in a rather stiff way. They can comprehend that I made it up, but their friends can’t.