The word pericarp is a botanical term. It refers to the wall of a ripened ovary of a plant, or the fruit wall (1). The pericarp is divided into three distinct sections. The first is the endocarp, or inner layer. The endocarp is better known to most people as the hard pit of the fruit. Inside the endocarp is the seed of the fruit. The second section is the mesocarp, or middle layer. This layer is what most people would consider the flesh of the fruit and is the majority of the mass. The final section is the exocarp, or the outer layer. This outer layer makes up the skin of the fruit. A visual representation of the pericarp can be seen to the right. (2)
To the left the pericarp of a strawberry can be seen starting with the white border on the inside of it.
This fruit anatomy has to do with Pierpont Morgan because he had a massive nose that looked like a strawberry. The line from the novel reads, “It seemed to [Morgan] that every time he made an acquisition or manipulated a bond issue or took over an industry, another bright red pericarp burst into bloom” (Doctrow 139). Morgan’s chronic skin disease made his nose look as if he had many little bumps on it which then made his nose look dimpled like the exocarp of a strawberry.
Doctorow, E. L. Ragtime. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007. Print.