Dean puts a $5 bid on Rory’s basket, even though Taylor set the bidding at $3. He is expecting that to be the end of the matter, but is shocked when Jess begins bidding against him. Eventually Jess gets Rory’s basket for $90 – Dean, who has only come prepared with a small amount of money, expecting to win the bid straight away, cannot compete.
Rory’s is actually the most expensive basket we see at the auction, even though it’s tiny with only a few leftovers in it. Even Taylor tries to dissuade the boys from bidding so much, despite the fact the money is being raised for charity.
This interaction is an homage to the box social auction scene from the 1955 musical film, Oklahoma!, based on the 1943 stage musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, which was based on the 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs.
The film focuses on the love triangle between virginal farm girl Laurey (Shirley Jones), charming cowboy Curly (Gordon MacRae), and unchivalrous farm hand Jud (Rod Steiger). Laurey goes to the box social with Jud to teach Curly a lesson, and the two men end up in a bidding war for Laurey’s picnic hamper at the auction. It seems as if Jud has won, but then Curly sells everything he has in order to raise enough money to get the winning bid.
The clean cut Dean and outsider Jess are clear analogies to Curly and Jud, but unlike the film, Dean has no way of instantly raising the money to get the highest bid. It does suggest that Rory accepts the lunch date with Jess because she’s fed up with Dean, as Laurey accepts Jud’s invitation because she’s tired of the way she’s being match-made with Curly. It also hints at Jess’ obsession with Rory, as Jud becomes obsessed with Laurey.
However, in the film, Laurey and Curly end up married, and Jud is killed in a fight with Curly. Perhaps this is meant reflect a bit of wishful thinking from Dean!
[Picture shows Laurey and Jud in Oklahoma!]