Gary Soto Analysis Essay, Research Paper
The Dirty Pie
Almost every human being can recall some incident from their life that they wish had not happened. Many people can recall some grievous deed they committed where getting away with it was worse then being caught. In his autobiography, Gary Soto recalls a time when he was six years old and stole an apple pie. Soto s use of contrast, diction and imagery breathe life into his work and give a unique perspective into the mind and motive of a guilty six year old.
In Soto s work, a reader is impressed by the vast amount of vivid contrasts to illustrate a point, not only from a child s view but also from a religious one, too. Soto s first sentence is, I knew enough about hell to stop me from stealing. I was holy in almost every bone. Interestingly, Soto mentions the negative first; he knows he does not want to go to hell so for that very reason and that reason alone -he wants to abstain from stealing. The weakness of this is that a person or child cannot be lectured by his mother about morals and be expected to instantly adopt them. No, all that Soto has is an empty shell that contains no substance and will crumble under the slightest amount of pressure. Furthermore, Soto remarks that there were nine different kinds of pie at the shop, Pecan and apple being my favorite, although cherry looked good, and my dear fat-faced chocolate was always a good bet. This sentence must be considered on a religious standpoint; one can compare the different types of pie to sins, all different and all good looking, but they are still the same deep down. Also, remember that Soto said he was holy in almost every bone. He was somewhat of an innocent child. But, just as Eve consciously took the apple from the tree of knowledge and committed the first sin, Gary Soto is standing before the same tree debating a decision he had already made. When Soto is eating his pie he describes it as, The slop was sweet and gold-colored in the afternoon sun when I was finished I felt like crying because it was the best thing I had ever tasted. Once more an analogy can be draw to the tree of knowledge from the Bible. When Soto ate the pie it was like Eve eating the apple, but as soon as the deed was committed both people instantly knew the bad along with the good. Just as Soto knew it was the best tasting morsel he had ever had, but it would also be the foulest thing for his conscience.
To complement Soto s writing there is well chosen diction, which causes the words to jump out to highlight the theme, and give the reader a good idea about what is occurring. Soto illustrates how much he wants the pie showing us how good it seemed to him, my sweet tooth gleaming the juice of guilt wetting my underarms It s obvious that Soto wants the pie, my sweet tooth gleaming conveys a sense of someone looking through a windows at pastries, smelling them and drooling over them. Soto then shows us how much he wants the pie; he is practically sweating over it. Finally one can see how Soto s perception of reality is altered -all he wants is that pie at any price. After Soto takes the pie his diction changes to include words like, I raced quick walk…I couldn t wait any longer panicked Soto conveys a sense of panicking and not knowing what to do. He got the pie -what he wanted- but now that he has it, what will he do? Once more this can be compared to the story of Adam and Eve because after Adam and Eve ate the apple they are afraid and they try to hide themselves from God. For the first time in their lives they are unsure and scared. Soto then goes onto to describe himself as he ate the pie, Greedily push big chunks of pie down my throat An ogre or some other monster was what the words connoted to this reviewer. Soto is there on the ground like some demented giant shoveling people into his gaping mouth like Human McNuggets. The dynamic use of diction throughout Soto s work helped to change it and make it seem more alive and human. It showed us how certain values can change over time.
Another important part of Soto s work is the outstanding imagery that he employs. One of the best examples of this imagery can be seen when Soto writes, A squirrel nailed itself high on a trunk, where it forked into two large bark-scabbed limbs. The squirrel could be an allegory which stood for Jesus Christ on the cross dying for Gary Soto s sin. Perhaps in another way the squirrel could represent Soto himself because personally he had to blame himself squirrel nailed itself . When Soto refuses to share his pie with Cross-Eyed Johnny, Johnny remarks, Your hands are dirty [with the pie] . This image reminded this reviewer of Brutus hands when they were dirty with the blood of Caesar. Dirty with the pie, dirty with the sin of stealing, dirty with the sin of selfishness, yes, little Gary s hands were dirty. Finally, when Soto crawls under his house to escape the heat, he sees, The pie tin glared at me and rolled away when the wind picked up. My face felt sticky with guilt. Like Adam and Eve hiding from the Almighty in the Garden of Eden, Soto is hiding from the heat the guilt that is associated with his sin. When the pie tin rolls away, it seems to say that even though you will be able to hide, you and God will always remember this it will stick to you. The imagery conveys a vivid and explicit picture of what Soto sees but cannot write; it is like the conscience of Gary Soto critizing himself.
Gary Soto s passage struck this reviewer as a window into the mind of a six year old but also into the mind of human nature. Like Adam and Eve, a person can be temporarily blinded with immediate overwhelming desires. But when a person succumbs to those desires, that person will loose what it best for the long term. Eve plucked that apple and Gary Soto stole that pie thinking only of the immediate satisfaction without regard to subsequent guilt or damnation. Moreover, if Brutus had thought about what the death of Caesar would do he might have been able to avoid a tragedy. Yes, perhaps if we as individuals always thought before acting, if we would consider the consequences, the world might be a better place.