This is the final installment of “Celebrating Banned Book Week with Kurt Vonnegut”. In “Hal Irwin’s Magic Lamp”, Vonnegut excellently portrays a married couple each of whom has no clue as to what the other one really wants.
Hal manages to build a lamp like Aladdin’s and hires someone to be a jeanie so that he can make his wife, Mary, think he is magically buying her a big house and an expensive car. In reality, Hal has made a lot of money on the stock market, of which his wife is unaware, and he is buying these things for her.
That’s where the misunderstanding comes in. Hal automatically thinks every wife should want expensive things; however, Mary is quite content to live simply. She would much rather hang out with her new friend – the person Hal hired to be the jeanie – who happens to be African American and an unwed mother. Befriending her, Mary, in some ways, makes up for the offensive way Hal treats the “jeanie”.
The fact that this story takes place in 1929 gives the reader a feel for what might eventually happen from a financial standpoint for both Mary and Hal.
This is by no means my favorite story from Bagombo Snuff Box but here are posts to the stories that are my favorites: