The etymology of the term “economy” comes from a compound of two Greek words, oikos (house) + nemein (management). In its root form, then, economy means household management.
Thursday we need to think about economy, in particular Lalu/Polly’s role within the various economies that are present in the novel.
Consider Part One. There is an economy at work in northern China, one characterized by deprivation and crime. Bandits, who are themselves from the lowest classes of society, prey on impoverished peasants. Living so close to the margins of subsistence, there is scarcely any possibility of advancement. In such a set of conditions, Lalu herself is one of the only salable articles to be found. She becomes a commodity.