Silk peacock

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EvaH

Senior Member
Czech
Hello,

In the book "Parrot and Olivier in America" by Peter Carey, Parrot came to see his mistress Mathilde who was staying in the house of Mr. Eckerd (a Jew) after her own house had burnt down. Parrot was jealous of Mr Eckerd. He describes him in the following way:

What was happening in this house I did not know, but I took good note of the Jew’s very fancy gown, a silk peacock embroidered in gold from neck to hem and the whole less well secured than I would have liked.

I am not sure about the word "paacock" here. Does it mean "peacock blue" here?

Thanks for your answers.
 
  • Davidvs91

    Senior Member
    English - American

    Probably not just blue. It is likely multicolored like a peacock's tail.


    I missed the part about being embroided in gold "neck to hem". Egmont is correct, it would just refer to being very ornate.
     
    Last edited:

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think it means an image of the bird. It could also refer to the showiness of a peacock, implying that the gown was also showy, but (not having read the book, going only by this passage) I think that's less likely.

    (If it's embroidered in gold, it can't be blue.)
     

    EvaH

    Senior Member
    Czech
    Yes, Egmont, from the context it seems to me the author wants to say that the gown was showy.
     

    EvaH

    Senior Member
    Czech
    That's what I have also thought, Johannes. I have thought that the word peacock refers to Mr. Eckerd. But it seems strange to me that the sentence continues with the words "embroidered in gold from neck to hem" - a peacock can't be embroidered.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I agree except it's Mathilde who is wearing the dress not Mister Eckhard (a man). :)
    Mr. Eckhard is wearing the gown. It could easily be a dressing gown, much like a bathrobe. In the period of the book, men often wore these. Some men still do This link shows a man wearing a dressing gown in the first half of the 20th century.

    That's what I have also thought, Johannes. I have thought that the word peacock refers to Mr. Eckerd. But it seems strange to me that the sentence continues with the words "embroidered in gold from neck to hem" - a peacock can't be embroidered.
    Perhaps a peacock can't be embroidered, at least not without cruelty to the poor bird, but a peacock design surely can be. The fifth photo on this page, from the 2008 Cannes film festival, shows English actress Georgina Chapman in a peacock dress.
     

    EvaH

    Senior Member
    Czech
    So from what you say, Egmont, can I deduce that it could be a kind of "silk peacock pattern" embroidered in gold from neck to hem? When I read the sentence again and again it makes sense to me. And "fancy" means that as a whole the gown was "colorful, luxury, fashinable".
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Oops, my bad on misreading the context.
    I still think that it could be a description of the person being showy in the gown rather than the gown being showy. I don't think the gown nor the person needs to literally look like a peacock in order to strut about as proud as a peacock.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    It was a flamboyant, fussy bathrobe that apparently wasn't fastened tightly, lending an "ick" factor to the whole thing.

    The guy disliked Mr. Eckerd and viewed him in as unflattering way as he could in his mind.

    He saw him as a frilly lightweight and using the word peacock was a great way to add to that mood. Whether or not there was actually a bird embroidered on the material, I'd say it was probably more gaudy than a manly man might wear.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Oops, my bad on misreading the context.
    I still think that it could be a description of the person being showy in the gown rather than the gown being showy. I don't think the gown nor the person needs to literally look like a peacock in order to strut about as proud as a peacock.
    I think it's the gown, for two reasons:

    1. A gown could be embroidered. A person could not.

    2. A gown could be poorly secured: loose, showing Mr. Eckerd's body or underwear, about to fall off. That wouldn't apply to a person either.
     
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