Helen's name may be intended to associate her with the mythical Helen of Troy in order to stress her role as the most beautiful object in the world of the store. But if this association emphasizes too strongly her erotic appeal, the association can be modified by thinking of the tender qualities of the Helen in Edgar Allen Poe's love poem "To Helen." Helen Bober is like the birds and flowers which were loved by St. Francis, and which symbolize her natural beauty, love, and desire for harmony with the world. Helen has spent most of her life in the drab neighborhood of the grocery store. She is a product of the American big-city high school, where intellectual excitement is often stimulated in the children of immigrants who themselves never developed intellectual interests, for many reasons, especially because of limited education and a bitter struggle for a livelihood. Now Helen's satisfactions center
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