May 19, 2010
Dickel – 2
In life, one lesson that is taught is to never steal, as it is considered one of the worst sins one can commit. When one decides to steal, it is accompanied by shame, remorse, and consequences that one does not originally expect, due to being blinded by one’s greed. In the autobiographical excerpt from A Summer Life, by Gary Soto, Soto’s 6-year-old self steals a pie from the German Market and consequently is overcome by remorse and guilt. Soto’s six-year old self predominantly displays emotional insecurity after he steals a pie from the German Market, switching from indulgence and love to guilt and remorse. By religious diction, sensory imagery, and metaphors, author Gary Soto recreates the guilt, moral confliction, and paranoia of his six-year-old self.
Soto’s use of sensory imagery conveys the joy, indulgence, and remorse Soto’s six-year-old self gets from the stolen pie. In the German Market, Soto’s young self eyes the “nine kinds of pie”, feels the “cherry [pie looks] good and [Soto’s] dear, fat-faced chocolate [is] always a good bet.” (2) Only a few moments after arriving at the Market, Soto’s six-year-old self already is taken away by the scent and look of the pies, already indicating to the reader he may make a foolish decision. After stealing, he feels a tiny sliver of guilt, which, however, “did [not] stop [Soto] from clawing a chunk from the pie tin and pushing into the cavern of [Soto’s] mouth.”(4) Soto’s diction reveal that no matter how tasty the pie may be, it cannot fill up the “cavern” of Soto’s mouth, a never-ending yearn for more pie. Soto does not hold back, “[laying] more pieces on [his] tongue, wet finger-dripping pieces, until [he] was finished and felt like crying because it was about the best thing he [has] ever tasted.” (4) Driven by his uncontrollable hunger, Soto just keeps on eating the pie and sobs in enjoyment from the pie, albeit not feeling or considering the sin he has just committed. When Cross-Eyed Johnny asks if he can have some of the pie, Soto, perhaps rash in his decision, tells Johnny to “go away”, and “[Johnny] watched [Soto’s] fingers greedily push big chunks of pie down [Soto’s] throat.” Although the pie is not Soto’s property, Soto’s selfishness appears to make him refuse to give Cross-Eyed Johnny a piece of the pie, even when the pie is not Soto’s property to begin with, conveying the greed and ignorance that come with stealing. After finishing the pie, Soto sits on the curb, with the pie tin “glar[ing] at [him] and roll[ing] away when the wind picked up. [Soto’s] face was sticky with guilt.” (7) Finally, when the feeling of ecstasy has disappeared, Soto finally realizes the negative extent of what he has done: at only six years of age, he already has stolen and committed one of the worst sins possible in one’s life, and he did not share any of the pie with Cross-Eyed Johnny.
Throughout the autobiographical narrative written by Gary Soto, many different literary elements are used to recreate the experience of his guilty six-year old self. Different elements such as contrast, repetition, pacing, diction, and imagery. Soto narrates this story as a young boy at a time when he seems to be young and foolish, Soto fool making mistakes, but at the same time hoping to learn ...
Religious diction helps exhibit the guilt, remorse, and paranoia Soto’s six-year old self feels from stealing the pie. At the beginning of the excerpt, Soto’s 6-year old self proclaims he knows “enough about hell to step [him] from stealing,” and he is “holy in every bone.” (1,1) The irony of these statements are that they are so childishly broken due to Soto’s desire to have one of the delicious pies from the German Market. Stealing is generally considered a moral sin, and one would be violating its religious innocence if you choose to steal. Right before he steals the pie, Soto feels the “shadow of angels and the proximity of God howling in the plumbing underneath the house”, displaying to the reader he does have a sense of what is right and wrong. However, he ignores his religious beliefs of not stealing and goes ahead and steals the pie, also conveying how strong desire for joy and indulgence can take over people. Shortly after stealing the pie, Soto’s 6-year old self “panic[s] about stealing the apple pie”, because he “knew an apple got Eve in deep trouble with snakes… Adam and Eve being cast into the desert, and what scared [Soto] more than falling from grace [is] being thirsty for the rest of [his] life.”(4) The strength of this statement is that, after stealing the pie, his remorse is as big as if he has brought the end of the world, and committed a sin that has affected everyone. Again, it is slightly ironic that he feels so much indulgence and joy, yet he follows it up with almost a balancing equivalent of guilt and remorse.
Soto's narration of his childhood experience of sin and guilt utilizes many rhetorical strategies. Every aspect of his prose including his pacing, repetition of phrases, imagery, and use of contrasting elements gives the reader a deeper understanding of what he felt during the pie raid. He clearly portrays how a child would react to the situation. Although throughout the essay, pacing is most ...