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LITERARY CRITICISM (BIS 3023/ BIR 2183) TITLE: THE EGG A THOUSAND MYSTERIES GROUP B SEMESTER 1 SESSION 2011/2012

LECTURER: MR MOHAMMAD SIDIK BIN ARIFFIN

NAME: NUR FARAH IDAYU BTE SAADON D20101038177

A THOUSAND MYSTERIES. The story Egg, written by an Indonesian author, Putu Wijaya, is a story about a recently passed away General, who has died, but still leaves a huge impact to the nation. When he passed away, he only inherits an egg for all his four sons. This action creates a stir to the nation as everyone has their own opinion on what the egg symbolizes. Logically, being someone with the title general and had received so many medals, he should have some real wealth for instance money or properties. Almost everyone in the nation has been trying to figure out how the sons should divide the egg, since it is a will, and they have to divide it evenly. The first time I read the story, up until the fifth time, the first word that crossed my mind was imperialism. What I see in this story is the new era of imperialism, in the way how the sons willing to fully trust a professor from Berkeley, a city in California, which is one of the state in the United States of America. I can see that instead of giving name to his character, the writer has been emphasizing on the word Berkeley by putting it in the text few times. For example, The professor from Berkeley was..., professor Berkeleys and the Berkeley Professor. The people from their own nation has been pouring ideas on how to share and what the egg could symbolizes, but instead, all four sons decided to agree to the professors without even knowing and asking the logic of the Professor to give each of them a house and a car when in return, he will take the egg. There are also sentences in the text that further strengthen this analysis. For instance, From our history we can see that a foreign eye is more objective and appreciative of what is happening in our country. Coming from a local, this is in a way agreeing that the foreigner still controlling the way the locals are thinking. Another example is , ...a foreigners action was considered meaningful not because of its importance, but because of our attitude towards foreigner. Our admiration toward them, if our neighbour were to fart, we would say all kinds of things about him. But if our foreign guests were to fart, we would bag for forgiveness... This is, sadly, for me, a reality even here in Malaysia. We adore them too much. In my opinion, this is a kind of imperialism that they have on the people. Heinemann (1986) said that, ..imperialism presents itself as the cure and demands that the dependant

sing hymns of praise with the constant refrain. This best describes what was portrayed in the story The Egg. We may also see that in the story, the professor locked himself in the generals room saying using the excuse to examine his room and all that was mentioned in the story is that the professor used the phone to talk to someone far away in which the professor claimed that the calls were made to few overseas foundations. From my perspectives, all four sons were too mesmerize by the thought of seeing the image of a foreigner is just so good, that they do not even argue on what exactly the professor is doing inside the room and who did he really called. There is no real evidence that the doctor is contacting whom he said he did. The irony is that at the end of the story, the actual heritance ended up at the professors hand; a cheque worth 400 million. It did not stated the currency of the cheque, however, the cheque is from Swiss Bank, thus, my guess is that the currency could be in dollar or any other currency that is higher than rupiah. This is because, the annual fees of a Swiss Bank is famous for its expensiveness. Plus, maintaining the privacy of having such a huge account, that no one, not even generals own sons know about the existence of the account, logically would also cause some money. Thus, if the money is only in Rupiah currency, it is unlikely enough for the maintainance of it. That is why I assume that the 400 million is in some higher value currency. What makes it worse is the cheque is an open cheque, which basically means anyone can cash it out. Even though the professor offered the sons a car and a house at the price limit of 200 million rupiah, but we do have to remember that the rupiah currency is relatively low as compared to other currency like dollar. The irony is that the money could be the generals lifetime hard work serving his nation, ended up in the hand of a foreigner. Not even fall to the generals own people or own flesh and blood, but to complete stranger and not a local. Plus, the generals sons only received a house and a car, in which the actual value of the will is way more. Moreover, the generals son, in my view, seems to have been cheated by the professor. This is because, the professor, in a completely subtle way, has trick the sons into accepting his outcome without revealing it first, and said that the foundations would only allow the professor to reveal his finding if the four children

would agree to fully implement it. The sentence is, If it is true that the decision will be implemented in full, then they agree that I present the decision now. This could also be interpreted as being a threat. If he were to be fair, he should have just let them know of the outcome. However, instead of giving any outcome, he only offered them a house and a car for each of them, without even telling them the rationale behind the solution. In my opinion, he owes the children and the people of the nation explanation as why he offered them such solution. But instead, the professor did not give any room for the sons to voice out their opinion because, The professor only smiled, and shook their hands before anyone of them was able to protest. In addition, why would the professor carelessly put the egg that is considered precious in his coat pocket and only wrapped in green paper? There are chances that he knows the egg is not the ordinary egg. Not only that, the professor keeps on repeating that he had contacted some international foundation, however, he did not specified which foundation it is. As I read the story, I can see that the writer always write particular details like the poet WS Rendra or Emil Salim, the Minister of Environment. Yet, he did not specified which foundations does the professor is referring to is the reason I interpreted that the professor did not mentioned any foundation name to the children. Thus, this is strengthening my argument that he could be tricking the children. This story requires a lot of interpreting from the readers. Even though there are many interpretations and suggestions from many well-known people from Indonesia like Professor Sutan Takdir Alisyahbana and Goenawan Mohamad, but the readers will still have to guess which one of them is correct since most of them are contrasting with each other. However, I really like the opinion from the poet, WS Rendra, where he sees the egg phenomena is relatively a small problem as compared to bigger problem out there such as natural disaster, world hunger, injustice and freedom of speech. From my view, this is a good view. The whole nation has been struck with the egg situation and even creates a foundation on it. The egg situation is supposed to be a private matter for the generals family, however, the people has been so caught up by it that they make it as some kind of nationals issue, which is for me, is ridiculous.

However, from that, I also see that it could be a way for the general to leave one last impact to his beloved country. The general is a well-known person who has been serving the country and even his enemy. He is also someone whose effort has been recognised with so many medals as the text says, A general whose chest was full of decorations. The text also said, A general who had left his mark on each and everyone. He might not really ready to leave his country, and thus, might lead to his idea of leaving an egg to his children. And, it actually worked. He has created an egg phenomenon which leaves mark to almost everyone in his nation. The Egg is a good story in opening ones mind. It makes readers think creatively on what the egg resemblance and how can four people share one egg. It is a good story as eyes opener to the public to see that we should not trust an outsider easily. We should not worship them like they are the goddess when in fact they are just normal human being like everyone else. In this story we can see that although great people within Indonesia like the professors from well established university like Gajah Mada said that they are ready to join committee that will supervise the egg, but the children still ended up chose to trust the outsider, the professor from Berkeley.