Shmoop dares you to find an uglier coffee table on the Internet. Seriously. We dare you.
Ready? Set? Go.
So, what'd you come up with? Whatever it is, it couldn't possibly be as bad as that wagon wheel coffee table, a piece of furniture so ugly that Jess seems to be the only person on the planet who thinks it's not worthy of the trash. And even he comes around in the end.
The wagon wheel coffee table only appears in one scene, and it's not exactly a symbol for Manifest Destiny or the Oregon Trail. So what gives? Why take a closer look?
We'll tell you: the wagon wheel coffee table isn't really important in and of itself. But what happens around and because of that coffee table? Well, that's another story.
It all starts with Jess and Marie moving in together:
JESS: I like it, it works. It says home to me.
MARIE: All right, all right. We'll let Harry and Sally be the judge. What do you think?
HARRY: It's nice.
JESS: Case closed.
MARIE: Of course he likes it, he's a guy. Sally? (Sally shakes her head.)
JESS: What's so awful about it?
MARIE: It's so awful there's no way even to begin to explain what's so awful about it.
JESS: Honey, I don't object to any of your things.
MARIE: If we had an extra room you could put all of your things including your bar stools.
Guys, we're totally team Marie on this one. Sorry, Jess. This cute little disagreement, which just so happens to occur right after Harry disastrously runs into his ex-wife, Helen, sends our poor romantic hero off the deep end. It's not about the coffee table so much as it's about the little things you disagree over in a romantic relationship. And how those little things can add up to divorce, if you let them fester long enough.
Roll Away, Wagon Wheel
The great saga of the wagon wheel coffee table does have a happy ending—though not so much for the table. After Harry has his freak-out, he storms out, Sally hot on his heels. That's when Marie turns to Jess and says, quite earnestly, "I want you to know that I will never want that wagon wheel coffee table."
A few moments later, after Harry and Sally have had it out on the front stoop, Jess comes flying out the door, wagon wheel in tow. "Don't say a word," he says.
Here's the thing: while we're sad for Jess, who doesn't get his dream coffee table, we applaud his compromising spirit. While Harry freaks out and fights with Sally, we're busy enjoying the utter functionality of Jess and Marie's relationship. These two love each other. They communicate. They're honest. And they make compromises. It's a nice little moment of a functioning relationship that serves as a foil for Harry and Sally's eventual denial of their true feelings.