Rhetorical Analysis: A Summer Life
Guilt and remorse are two main feelings that people may understand differently, whether on account of past experiences, learning tactics, or an opinion on religion. In the narrative A Summer Life, the use of religious allusions, contrast, and powerful diction helps Gary Soto reveal the effect that guilt can have; his concern throughout is to explicate his vision of religion and how it affected his guilty persona. The way he achieves his goal is not only through various rhetorical devices but also through the way he writes as though he is actually a six-year-old.
Soto successfully uses religious allusions to help show that he was fully aware of his wrongdoings and that he was a full believer in God. Gary Soto explains that he sees, “A squirrel nailed itself high on the trunk, where it forked into two large bark-scabbed limbs” (Soto 22-24), confirming that he was in fact fully aware of all his surroundings. The squirrel, as a symbol, indicates Jesus nailed to the cross. This religious allusion seems to reveal the guilt he actually feels. Young Soto’s demeanor seems to be very religious, so much so that he “knew an apple got Eve in deep trouble with snakes because Sister Marie had shown us a film about Adam and Eve being cast into the desert and what scared me more than falling from grace was being thirsty for the rest of my life” (Soto 33-37). His feelings towards Adam and Eve’s story demonstrate the guilt he has experienced. Soto continuously expounds on his paranoid conscience by expressing the extrinsic guilt he was experiencing.
Contrast is one of the most important rhetorical devices used in this narrative. It is used successfully for calling attention to right and wrong: Soto highlights this theme by comparing Eve and himself, as well as by comparing light and religion. Gary Soto states that “the best things in life came stolen” (Soto 46), but as he tries to justify why stolen things seem to be the best, he finds that he is contradicting himself. Soto “knew enough about hell to stop [Him] from stealing” (Soto 1), presenting a complete contrast to his own opinion.
Soto’s justification helps explain that the guilt a child experiences can always be justified within that innocent child’s mind, eventually leaving the child to believe that stealing is adequate. Soto eventually shares a story about Eve stealing the apple from the sacred garden, which is ironically similar to his personal story of stealing that “sweet and gold-colored” (Soto 40) apple pie. The purpose for his sharing of the story clearly illustrates that this specific concurrence worries him but allows the readers to know that the guilt is eating him alive. Soto repeatedly employs the word “light” (Soto 18, 3, 84, 85), making sure that this imagery does not go unnoticed; he thus creates a comparison involving religion and maybe even God. Soto sees a “bald grocer whose forehead shone with a window of light” (Soto 17-18), as again was mentioned after he started eating the apple pie. His guilt forces him to see that “light” until he finally “crawled back to the light” (Soto 83-84). In other words, he tries to relieve his guilt by giving himself to religion or God. Later on, Soto “squinted in the harsh light” (Soto 85), a movement which can indicate the fact that he is hesitant to return to that light or to the religion that causes all his guilt.
Soto explains that eating forbidden food was so wonderful and desirable that his “face was sticky with guilt” (Soto 65-66); as the reader continues reading, he or she discovers that young Soto never wiped his face. Clearly, Soto is trying to create an understanding between guilt and stickiness. It is almost as if he is explaining that the guilt will never disappear; it will always be around to haunt him. Through such images, Soto, as an adult author, convincingly portrayed the guilt of a young child. His use of religious allusions shows that he was fully aware of both the suspicious surroundings and of the sin that he had committed.
Comparison Of Gary Soto’s And Deborah Tannen’s Views On Stereotypes And Self Being
“Everyone is unique and each experience is different,” quoted by Gloria Steinem, a journalist. A person’s mindset changes frequently as they grow up, whether it ties to cultural traditions, or a social environment anybody can express themselves differently. The writer Gary Soto writes about his doubtful future in “Like Mexicans” and compares his culture to his wife’s Japanese background. In “Gender in the Classroom” Deborah Tannen discusses male-female differences in the classroom. The two perspectives on Soto’s and Tannen’s experience gives a common stereotypical view on how gender disposition, conversational style, and cultural background, can lead to a false assumption of a person’s self being.
The males aren’t likely to give heartwarming advice to his friends. In “Like Mexicans” Gary father and brother barely had any significant say in his pursuit of marriage. Although Gary never had a strong relationship with those two his attitudes began to change when he was able to meet his best friend Scott and there they would talk about “school and albums.” Scott shares advice for Gary marriage “she’s too good for you, so you better not.” That behavior was similar when speaking to his mother and grandmother about his marriage. “Well, sure if you want to marry her trapped in the poor boy’s mind distracting him from math problems to cultural geography” from Gary’s mother and a quite similar response from Gary grandmother “A bad advice and good advice.” All in all, a female to female conversation is more relatable and comfortable for females to share stories and views alike.
Depending on the gender, behaviors can change based on their principles and belief. From the start of “Like Mexicans” Soto was uncertain if he will marry the right girl with the same ethnicity and economic status as himself. It wasn’t until experiencing his wife lifestyle that Gary would eventually take it upon himself to protect his love life from his family/friend’s responses and demanding request. In comparison, “Gender in the Classroom” Tannen experiments the ways of male and female voices in the classroom. Unlike “Like Mexicans” Males can be equally measured to a female student. Tannen believes that the males are leaders and not afraid to speak up during class discussions, but when it comes down to personal topics females prefer to talk more than males. This event resembles “Like Mexicans” in which Gary mother and grandmother discussed more personal topics with Gary than his father or brother.
People who have knowledge from personal experience can relate with others more. In “Like Mexicans” Gary grandmother advised Gary to marry someone with the same background as himself. His grandmother conversational style is defined throughout “Like Mexicans” The author expresses the outlook on how he sees marriage shared with traditional family views as well. Gary grandmother take on marriage is constantly reminded. In contrast, “Gender in the Classroom” the author separates the conversation styles of both male and females. Tannen believes males are likely to express themselves during discussions. However, in “Like Mexican” Gary did not have many male friends for him to express his thoughts outside of his best friend Scott. In “Gender in the Classroom” “most women are more comfortable speaking private to a small group they know well.” In short, females are a little more shy, but are more observant in debates and classroom discussions. Even so, in “Like Mexicans” Gary mother and grandmother were defiant and often led the conversation about Gary marriage. The gender role played in these two stories greatly differentiates both conversational style and how they speak to each other.
You shouldn’t be judged by your cultural background. In “Like Mexicans” Gary family did not take the news lightly when he confirmed his love for a Japanese female. Gary family wanted him to marry an “Okie” a Mexican. The pressure led him to doubt himself and question his own doings. Eventually, Gary became different; he understood that race cannot define what you are. In contrast to “Gender in the Classroom” Tannen analyzes the students by splitting them in degree programs with certain ethnicity and genders. “Four foreign male students spoke in class occasionally.” “It was specifically challenging for Japanese women to speak in all female group”, normally the Japanese women are overwhelmed by how talkative the female students were in all female based group. The different ethnicity from multiple backgrounds provided that Tannen judgement was correct. Tannen concluded that the student’s style changes no matter the cultural background of the students.
Deborah Tannen’s, Gender in the Classroom proved little support for her claim. Tannen believes that by experimenting and analyzing surveys of her students she set the notion of how typical students act in the classroom. While, in “Like Mexicans” Soto was able to stand against his family traditions and change the notion of the typical Mexican stereotype. Both writers viewed the same ideology but approach it differently. We can conclude that by the stereotypical view on conversational style, cultural background, and gender disposition it can result in a false assumption of a person’s self being.
Literary Analysis Of The Pie By Gary Soto
Almost no human being can deny they haven’t done something that they wish they could take back or regret. At some point in a lifetime, anyone can recall an unfortunate event in their life that they wish they could go back in time to redo it. In his memoir, “The Pie”, Gary Soto portrays how religion impacted his struggle with his decisions and to explain his guilt due to his struggle with making moral decisions. In his piece of literature, he includes a lot of vivid imagery, contrast, and diction to depict a child of six years of his views and how religion affects the thoughts and offer a distinctive point of view into the mind of a delinquent six year old.
In Soto’s memoir, contrast is used to demonstrate a point of view from a child’s standpoint as well as a religious one too. In the beginning of the passage, Soto’s begins to explain, “I knew enough about hell to stop me from stealing. I was holy in almost every bone.” Soto compares being holy in every bone to hell. This highlights that Gary knows how frightening hell is, and because of that reason, he wants to refrain himself from stealing at any cost. The only flaw is that the parents can’t teach their children about morals and anticipate that they will instantaneously embrace the values being taught. Gary explains how boredom made him sin. The author uses imagery as Gary is in the market with his eyes locked into the nine different kinds of pie, pecan and apple being his favorite. This visual detail further presents the desire for Gary to steal the pie. Through the image of the mouth-watering pie, the reader comprehends the eagerness of the boy to obtain the pie. This sentence can be read on a religious view point where one can compare the different pies to sins because they are all different flavors and good, but they are the same deep down. Gary also explains that he knew that the apple got Eve in trouble and despite knowing the type of sin that Eve committed, Gary proceeds to steal the pie. Through the use of contrast, diction, imagery as well as allusion, the author thoroughly explains how Gary was impacted by the decisions he made because of his religion yet his desire overpowered his determination to stay holy throughout his mind and soul.
Transitioning from the market into the neighborhood, as Soto describes how he is eating the savory pie, he mentions back to his guilt when Cross-eyed Johnny asks Gary if he could have some of the pie and Gary tells him to get away. He then proceeds to devour the pie once again. Johnny watched as Gary pushed the pie greedily down his throat. The narrator uses contrast between his human wants and Christian route. He expresses that he is feeling guilty but then resumes to demolishing the pie. This shows the influence of Christianity on Gary but also his maturity as a six year old kid. The narrator also uses allusion where the pies can be compared to the holy apple where Eve resembles Gary in which they both committed a sin because of their desire for an object. Later, when Soto describes himself eating the pie, he explains that the slop was sweet and gold-colored and it was the best thing he’s ever tasted. Once again, the narrator relates this using allusion to the tree of knowledge and Eve. When Gary ate the pie, he instantly realised that the pie was the best tasting thing but at the same time it was unclean for his mind. Through the use of vivid imagery and outstanding use of diction, Soto greatly emphasizes the narrator’s desire for the pie and allows the reader to comprehend what greatly driven him to steal. Gary says, “my sweet tooth gleaming and the juice of guilt wetting my underarms.” This flawlessly portrays how induced the narrator was to steal that pie. The statement also highlights the lack of maturity from Gary as well as the strength of desire for Gary to acquire a pie. Throughout the passage, Soto is seen repeating “the shadow of angels and the proximity of God howling in the plumbing underneath the house…” He uses this repetition to express the guilt he felt as god was watching him. Nearing the end of the passage, the author utters, “I listened, ear pressed to a cold pipe, and heard a howl like the sea.” Gary believes that the howl is God’s anger and disappointment towards the actions that the narrator took in the market which causes Soto to undergo a sense of guilt.
In the end, portraying allusion, like Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden, Gary is also hiding from the pressure of the sin he committed and the guilt that comes along. At the end, when the tin cover for the pie rolls away, there is a very important lesson being presented. Even though you can get rid of something physically for the moment, you and God will always remember it and it will stick to your conscious forever. Eve extracts the apple and Gary stole the pie only thinking of the short term satisfaction in that moment without considering the consequences of guilt or punishment. Moreover, if they would have just thought of the possible outcomes or consequences, then they might have been able to avoid sinning. Yes, for all I know, if we as individual always took a second to think before we act, if we would just think about the tragedies or frightening outcomes, then maybe the world might be a better place.
Rhetorical Analysis Of A Summer Life By Gary Soto
Gary Soto in the autobiography, “A Summer Life”, describes a time when he stole the pie he goes onto explain the emotions he felt after he did something wrong. Soto supports his claim by recognizing imagery, repetition, and biblical allusions. The author’s purpose is to demonstrate the emotions a person goes through when they do something wrong, so that people will not do the wrong thing. The author writes in a very guilty tone for people who are thinking of doing wrong or making bad decisions.
In this story, Soto uses a great amount of imagery to try and justify his reason for stealing the pie as a kid, he describes his feelings through the imagery so you can have a strong understanding of the authors mind. Soto says that “With the kitchen stifling with the heat and lunatic flies, I decided to crawl underneath our house and lie in the cool shadows listening to the howling sounds of plumbing”. He uses the flies to resemble a sort of hell, because he had the guilty feeling from stealing the pie and even when he tries to escape that feeling the “flies” were in the image to represent a place for sin is present in the author’s mind. Hell is a very threatening place, where sinners and non-believers end up, so in a kids mind this takes a very overpowering effect on the feeling of forgiveness. When the pressure from the feeling of “hell” wasn’t relieved he tried crawling under the house to see if he could try and get rid of his guilty conscience. While Soto is under the house he goes onto say “I lay until I was cold and then crawled back to the light, rising from one knee, then another, to dust off my pants and squint in the harsh light”. He shows his “rebirth” from sin, it shows him coming back with his sin gone. His imagery resembles forgiveness for his sin and how it was taken away from him, it finally gives Soto a sense of relief from all the guilt he was facing after stealing the pie. His emotions are expressed through so many rhetorical devices and it gives his story a better insight for his readers, this is done by placing imagery everywhere along with repetition.
For this reason many phrases are repeatedly written to emphasize sin and how much guilt he was feeling after he decided to steal the pie. The use of repetition was used in places where Soto was trying to express the emotions he was going through It puts emphasis on his foolish acts and thoughts. In the story there are so many references to sin and religion, dealing with sin Soto says “your hands are dirty”, this is symbolizing a reminder of sin and that his hands are still dirty with sin and that Johnny recognizes it. He goes on to say “I was holy in almost every bone” he uses religion to show that he is still worthy and holy even though he did commit a sin. Soto uses this rhetorical device to express feelings multiple times in many statements in order to better understand the tone of the story. The utilization of the strict word usage express the information Soto had on the God and sin. By making use of words like ‘hell’, ‘shadows of angles’ and ‘bad deeds’ these words gives the strict viewpoint to the story. By realizing that taking is a crime Soto still took the pie, the temptation of the pie was greater than the person he was. He was trying to justify his sin but now that he is older he recognizes it, so he brings in these repetitive statements to draw his audience in. Not only do we see Soto trying to express his emotions through imagery and repetition but we tend to see it through some biblical allusions as well.
For example, in the text Soto attempts to legitimize his actions by referencing to biblical allusions throughout the text. Gary Soto uses the allusion “shadow of angel” to resemble a feeling of guilt that surrounds Soto. With this we see how Soto carries a heavy weight on his shoulders from stealing the pie and not sharing it, he feels a sense of evil that he was granted due to his weak temptations. He also refers to “Adam and Eve” because he views his situation similar to the story of Adam and Eve. In the story of Adam and Eve, they ate the fruit even after they were told to not do so. Instead he takes the pi and eats it knowing it was wrong, just like in “The Pie”. He utilizes and refers the word “sin” so much through the entire story, and just like in the Bible sin is mentioned very much and is a very important in both. Sin constantly runs through the writer’s head and plays a big role in his ending feelings. Sin is such a big deal in this because people don’t want to sin in order to get into heaven, that’s why he emphasizes the importance of the reader knowing how he felt. Soto delivers a good story, by using these rhetorical devices that help the audience become intrigued.
The author, Gary Soto properly uses many rhetorical devices that help recreate his feelings and what he viewed during the time. The last diagram of this story truly helped the creator get what he was feeling out by conveying everything that needs to be conveyed through imagery, repetition, and biblical allusion. By doing this he had the option to give the audience all that they expected to place themselves from his point of view. He utilized devices effectively and appropriately and it benefited the crowd by giving a legitimate look on his feelings.
Symbolism Of Onion In Buried Onions By Gary Soto
In the book Buried Onions by Gary Soto, it takes place in Fresno California. Fresno is a depressing town where gang members go around lurking every corner searching for something awful to do. Eddie is a young kid who hasn’t had the best childhood from having his dad die at a young age, to being born in such an awful and depressing town in California. He believes that there is a reason why the town is the way it is. His theory is there is a buried onion underneath the town. Overall throughout the story the onion symbolizes the sadness in a fearful environment which is propelled by the bitter tone.
It is very sorrowful and depressing in the town of Fresno, crime happening every second, everywhere. The author thinks that by putting in this quote “The sun was climbing over the trees of City College and soon the black asphalt would shimmer with vapors. I had a theory about those vapors, which were not released by the sun’s heat but by a huge onion buried under the city. This onion made us cry.” Fresno is a very bland, dangerous, and a ghetto town full of crime and hatred. Many people that live in Fresno have encountered a great deal of dread from the barrio of Fresno they have lived in and all the downturn from losing a significant number of loved ones.
The onion that is covered underneath the town organizes pity. The individuals utilize the onion as an approach to portray how they feel about their lost loved ones. According to Eddie, this is how he acts when Angel is around. “That’s my message homes. I ain’t involved, really.” Lupe told me to be cool and left in a light jog, pulling up his khakis as he skipped up over a curb…. I thought of that red ant with the white flake, “Keep straight,” I told myself. “Don’t mess up Angel is a gangster.” It is demonstrated in here that Angel is a criminal, in Fresno where all the awful violations occur, trouble happens, and sorrow supported. The onion symbolizes misery which prompts the hopeless and frightful air in Fresno. “His eyes watering as if he had been sniffing onions.” The onion vapor gets to everyone making them sad, and everyone else in the town miserable.
In the barrio of Fresno, the mind-set and tone are the manner by which wary individuals are strolling through their own town terrified in light of the entirety of the wrongdoings. Fresno is a shocking and hopeless spot where pack people lurk around each corner looking for something horrendous to do. Eddie is a little youngster who hasn’t had the best youth from having his dad passed on at an energetic age, to being considered in such an awful and demoralizing town in California. Eddie acknowledges that there is an inspiration driving why the town is the manner by which it is. His speculation is that there is a secured onion underneath the town. Eddie owns expressions like this all through the book. Overall the onion symbolizes the hopelessness in an awful space which is actuated by the unsavory tone.
A Theme Of Societal Expectations In Gary Soto’s Looking For Work
Societal expectations, whether we notice them or not, are everywhere and have been set for years now; with no clear as to who should follow these norms and why. As a Mexican-American myself I had the same mindset that Gary Soto experienced as a child. Social influences give people a motive to conform and follow along with the crowd simply to meet others expectations. For some time, I had doubts about what a perfect life really looked like and found myself wondering why other families differed from mine. In Soto, Gary “Looking for Work” found in the book “Rereading America”, published in 1989, the author elicits an argument of how assimilation is influenced by race and socioeconomic status. Throughout the story we see his point get across through mentions of a perfect family structure, success in the form of social status, and the differences in financial statuses. All of these influenced certain areas, specifically how we think, act, look or feel. His purpose for writing this article is to inform of class and financial differences. Soto in the article is trying to appeal to those belonging on opposite ends of socioeconomic classes meaning the lowest and the highest, implying that they have the ability to change the way they view people above them or below them; especially teachers and students in academics.
Soto uses the media to demonstrate the impact that entertainment has on its viewers and how they change their beliefs to fit in. We see the effect of it when he “watched morning reruns of Father Knows Best, whose family was so uncomplicated in its routine”. Soto believed that the show itself demonstrated the structure of an ideal family which he desired to replicate. His family in comparison to the family in the TV series was messy and disoriented; while white families on screen seemed to be in a better place that could be considered utopian like. He persisted on changing his closest relatives when he noticed habits that they would exhibit on a daily basis. “The first step was to get my brother and sister to wear shoes at dinner” small changes in their routine led him to believe that his family could eventually become more like the Andersons. The feeling of belonging didn’t come easy and in certain times made him feel like an outsider. In this case it made Soto want to take part of a new culture by slowly transforming into them. Soto was attracted to the family on the television, so he tried to incorporate himself into a different lifestyle by slowly starting to do what they would. This would later influence his family and made them realize that by doing so they will change for the better. This idea came from the societal pressure, he felt that he needed to leave behind his culture and traditions in order to have success in America and be like everyone else. Through the use of pathos Soto’s values are modified to think as an American and are goal directed to becoming a white boy in a Caucasian household. Everyone has a different idea of what an American truly is, but this narrative expresses that the audience should not be pressured into becoming something they’re not.
Soto was not born into wealth, his family came from a lower income, but he soon created a mentality in which being affluent leads to success and a better life. Knowing the position that his family was in, he was in search of success and money which seemed to come easy to other families. Once he “had a nine-year-old’s vision” that told him “wealth would save us from ourselves”, because he believes that the key to success is money. Working would help move his family up to a higher socioeconomic status therefore bringing more benefits to his family as well. His argument becomes stronger throughout the story because simply taking part of a higher class will make his family act differently; and will make others around him view them differently. This creates assimilation because he and his family belong in a different social position, but by gaining the income that a white family would typically hold, he alongside his family are becoming more like them. Moreover, this makes his argument effective because he constructs this idea of wanting to be in an upper class, but he has a different reality that makes it impossible for him to accomplish the acceptance that he desires. If the past has taught us anything is that money can buy you everything but happiness
The way families interact within themselves privately and publicly varies in a few ways. Depending on their culture, some might have familiar patterns and others might have completely different traditions that are based on their own necessities. In this case, the family on TV is depicted as the perfect family that many people envision to be. The family had traits, such as “the father looks on his suit. The mother, decked out in earnings and a pearl necklace” while their “conservation is politely clipped”. Soto has a different family dynamic because they were raised differently and come from a different place. Soto advised his family that if they “improved the way we looked we might get along better in life. White people would like us more”. There is a set of family dynamics that is only shown on TV, and this is portrayed as the perfect family, but that is all fake and in reality each person acts different based on the setting they are in and the people around them. He makes his argument effective because a white family is known to be the perfect family, which influences him to want to be more like them. Children are influenced by their families, however Soto instead of wanting to be like his family he wanted to assimilate into the dynamic of a family different from his. This family came from a different background, and had a completely different lifestyle than him.
Soto has been impacted by society and their expectations in a variety of ways ever since he was a kid. He seeked acceptance his whole life in society, by assimilating himself and his family into the American culture. Factors such as the perfect family structure, success in the form of social status; and the differences in financial status led him to believe that in order to be more likeable and have a better life he had to be different. In order to be more like the white families that he saw on his everyday life and on TV he had to leave his family traditions and beliefs to assimilate into what he believed was the perfect family that projected the perfect American life. Although there is no such thing as a perfect American family, people are influenced to believe that riches and social status makes them American to the roots.
Soto’s Poetry – Academy of American Poets
The Inspiring Poet
Gary Soto is quite an inspiring poet and writer. He has lived a life full of influential experiences that have led him to who he is now as a great writer. Soto’s writing style and inspiration help to grasp readers attention through his attention to detail and relatable instances. The key to his writing was his experiences growing up in a poor Hispanic culture. Soto was born on April 12, 1952 in Fresno, California. Soto is married and has one child, a daughter. Both his parents worked as laborers and he himself worked as a laborer as soon as he was old enough to help his family. “When Soto was five years old, tragedy struck his family; Manuel Soto died as a result of a factory accident at the age of twenty-seven.” After his father’s death his family was faced with even more hardships. Soto grew up in a poor Hispanic neighborhood and did not do well in school as a child. In 1970 he went to Fresno City College so that he could avoid the draft. While he was at Fresno City College Soto became interested in poetry after one day while, “At a library, he picked up an anthology, The New American Poetry, edited by Donald Allen. The poems – by Edward Field, Gregory Corso, Kenneth Koch, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti – were lively, irreverent, and audacious, and Soto was hooked. “I though, Wow, wow, wow. I wanted to do this thing.” Soto later transferred to and graduated from Cal State University in 1974. Soto went on further with his education and in 1976 he earned his MFA from The University of California. It was only one year after graduating in 1977 that his first book of poems was published.
Creative Way to Author
Soto has written many poems, children’s books, short stories and even a few films. He has received numerous awards for his works. His works are reflections of his childhood and what his personal experience was like growing up as a Hispanic and the hardships he faced. His first book of poems, The Elements of San Joaquin, had great reviews. In one journal it is noted “Critics praised the book-as well as the volumes that followed, The Tale of Sunlight and Where Sparrows Work Hard-for Soto’s frank, desolate portrait of migrant life, his short, enjambed lines and idiomatic diction, and his ability to shift from naturalism to magic realism, from the apocalyptic to the transcendent”. This sheds light on how he was able to begin his career with such a strong impact. This particular critique definitely displayed the notable ability of Soto to write with great attention to detail. His use of naturalism helps to paint a vivid picture which helps the reader visualize with great detail. Also his uses of personal experience allows for readers to relate. Soto’s first three published works shed light on what it was like growing up in poverty and the affects growing up in poverty had on people. He followed these rather quickly with a fourth publishing and a fifth which put his work in a new genre, autobiographical prose. “In this memoir and the one that immediately followed it, Small Faces, Soto vividly re-creates the racially mixed, laboring-class neighborhood in which he was raised, the struggles his family endured to provide the children with a safe environment, and the central dilemma of a life continually lived on the margins as a product of two cultures”. His passion was clearly evident in his culturally centered works which he had breathed first hand. Soto was able to write from personal experience and allowed people to see things from the inside out based on his experiences. Shortly after beginning to write in a new genre, Soto went on to try his hand in writing children’s literature in the 90s. “A first volume of short stories for young readers, Baseball in April, and Other Stories, was published in 1990. The eleven tales depict Mexican American boys and girls as they enter adolescence in Hispanic California neighborhoods”. Even though he was now writing for a new target age group he was still sticking to displaying his Hispanic heritage in his works. During this time even though he we was writing for adolescents Soto still used real life issues that allowed young readers to relate to the topics in the stories. He received many critiques on these, mostly all good ones, such as this one, “To Michel Cart in Booklist, ‘his greatest gift to readers may be the attention he focuses on meaningful lives’. This to me simply restates the fact that the real life issues he writes about are easily relatable by the intended audience whether young or old. There were many works written by Soto and he wrote for many different ages. Soto also went as far as publishing children’s picture books. Just as in his other work he stuck to the Hispanic culture in these picture books as well. His work was reviewed as, ‘Soto’s pithy text uses a mix of Spanish and English to great effect,’ noted a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, and a critic in Kirkus Reviews deemed the work ‘a multicultural lesson with lots of zip’. His ability to display his own life and culture through his writing has made him very popular.
The way that Soto was able to become so expressive using his heritage is quite inspiring. He wrote to give incite to his own life and express the life of Hispanics in poverty. His writing can be seen not necessarily to educate but mostly to display, recollect and relate to his Hispanic life experiences. “Soto’s voice has been heard by readers of all ages; but, as he told me in an interview, he does not write with an audience in mind”. This shows how he writes to express not to impress. Another line from this journal “Soto does not simply tell about his experiences or despair about the light of the poor. His power comes from showing, from painting pictures that allow the reader to feel the wonder, promise, and pain of everyday life”.This goes to show simply that Soto portrays his stories similar to real life and in some cases actual real life so that makes them more easily to relate to. Soto’s passion for writing can easily be felt in any of his works and dedication to detail. Soto’s hard work and dedication has gained him many awards and acknowledgments. Just to mention some of his awards let us look at a list:
- Discovery-Nation prize, 1975; United States Award, International Poetry Forum, 1976, for The Elements of San Joaquin; Bess Hokin Prize, Poetry, 1978;
- Guggenheim fellowship, 1979-80; National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, 1981, 1991;
- Levinson Award, Poetry, 1984;
- American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1985, for Living up the Street;
- California Arts Council fellowship, 1989;
- Beatty Award, California Library Association, 1991, Reading Magic Award, Parenting magazine, and George G. Stone Center Recognition of Merit, Claremont Graduate School, 1993, all for Baseball in April, and Other Stories; Carnegie Medal, 1993, for The Pool Party;
- National Book Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, both 1995, both for New and Selected Poems;
- Literature Award, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, 1999;
- Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award, National Education Association, 1999;
- PEN American Center West Book
Award, 1999, for Petty Crimes;
- Silver Medal, Commonwealth Club of California/Tomas Rivera Prize;
- The Gary Soto Literary Museum was established at Fresno City College, 2010.
This list shows how much he has accomplished since the beginning of his career as a writer and how much he continues to accomplish. Some of his works received multiple awards which show just how great he is at his passion.
Gary Soto has and continues to live an inspiring life while pursuing his passion and voicing his cultures struggles. His works have encouraged many and are well known beyond his Hispanic culture. Soto’s Hispanic culture continues to motivate him and he still has so much more he can offer through his passionate work especially with all the issues going on politically at this particular point in time.
Analysis of Home Course in Religion by Gary Soto
Soto’s poems carry towards religion. The speaker in “Home Course in Religion” examines his history with religion, what he anteriorly keened, and what he transpires to learn through his own life experiences. There is a major separation between what he has been shown what is right and what he realizes on his own to be true. Distancing himself from the ideas he hopes to understand. The first separation shown, is that of reality versus the reasoning of thought. The speaker endeavors to understand and pertain the erudition he reads from religious books. The mystification associated with the book is illustrated in his own life as he and his roommates record their cerebrating on the current events. Their own cerebrations reflect the mystification relating to the books and the speaker struggles to genuinely find what he really kens and comprehends. What is truly real for the speaker is the physical pain associated with his karate class. He begins to realize the difference between what he has been taught by his karate instructor on the ideas of pain, and the “red welts” on his chest. He begins to see that the words of experts can be believed. He even mentions to us that his “instructor was wrong”. In this, he begins to break down the border between expertise and experience. Experience for him is the best lesson. The knowledge of others means nothing if not supported by personal experience. He cannot seem to understand the relationship between his own life and the ideas of others.
He continues to fight for an answer. That seems that there is a distinction that the speaker simply cannot cross. The obstacle remains when his mother calls. She yells at him and he endeavors to assure her that he will be a success someday. His struggle for existence is an integrated impediment that disunites him from understanding his purpose and his own credence’s. When his girlfriend comes back to the poem, it seems that the connection can finally happen. The speaker, perpetuating to probe for an authentic connection, elongates for a personal moment, but his girlfriend pushes him away. He is once again left alone to figure things out for himself.
In this poem, the speaker enforces the borders between himself and others. He manages to do this by seeking methods such as reading, instead of personal experience. Albeit in the cessation, he realizes that his own authenticity can apply, he is then isolated, unable to find what the answer is. All the notions he has examined have left him empty inside, frustrated with the God he had always postulated authentic, and frustrated with himself for his own lack of credence and inability to decide for himself.
The Theme of Committing a Sin in Gary Soto’s a Summer Life
The Cursed Pie
In the excerpt of A Summer Life, Gary’s conscience bothers him because it reveals his guilt about why he stole the pie and how he regrets this sin he has committed. Even though he was tempted to steal the pie, he didn’t think about the consequences of this action. In the passage, Soto argues that doing the right thing is better than committing a sin because of religion, getting caught eventually, and learning a simple lesson the hard way.
Soto learned a lot from his religion when he was younger. One of his main thoughts is about it is that he “knew enough about hell to stop [himself] from stealing. [He] was holy in almost every bone” (Soto 1). Soto argues that stealing is wrong because of the consequences that can happen if one decides to steal. He also isn’t 100% holy due to the fact that he already sinned. Even though he knew about sinning being wrong, it doesn’t actually stop him from doing it. When he starts to see pies, his thoughts change. He isn’t fully aware of what he is doing because “boredom [makes him] sin. At the German Market, [he stands] before a rack of pies, [his] sweet tooth [gleams] and the juice of guilt [wets] his underarms;….. [he] nearly [weeps] trying to decide which to steal, and [forgets] the flowery dust priests give off, the [shadows] of angels and the proximity of God howling in the pluming underneath the house” (2). His internal conflict here is that he starts to lose it because he doesn’t know what to do. He already knows about how stealing is wrong, yet he still does it. It sounds hypocritical because he would commit a sin here instead of listening to his religious thoughts. It is always the best for a person to listen to their good thoughts because there won’t be a horrible outcome in the end.
Soto also learns about getting caught when he encounters Cross-Eyed Johnny. When Johnny asks for the pie, Gary tells him to get away. Johnny watches Gary, and whispers that “[his] hands are dirty” (2). Gary has been caught red-handed stealing the pie, and it creates guilt inside of Gary. Even though he thought nobody would figure out that he stole the pie, he doesn’t even realize what could happen. People could feel like they are invincible when nobody is around, but that doesn’t cause one to not feel any pain later on. The pie tin starts to glare at him, and then “a car [honks], and the driver knew. Mrs. Hancock [stands] on her lawn, hands on her hip, and she know. [His] mom, peeling a mountain of potatoes at the Redi-Spud factory, knew” (7). Gary is in big trouble because he never truly listened to anyone. Even looking at the pie tin makes him Gary feel bad because he stole it, and it makes him think about why he did it. If someone gets caught by a bunch of people, and any objects associated with the sin are close by, it won’t look good for that person since their conscience is revealed to the public.
Soto’s personality drastically changes in the end, and he finally figures out what sin really is. It starts out with him drinking the water, and how “water [fills him] up more than the pie” (8). Water represents purity, and the pie represents his sin. This thought helps ease the fact that he sinned because there is more purity than sin in his body even though he didn’t really pay for the sin. It can be hard for people to live with a bad thought, and sometimes a better thought can help replace the bad one. He also sees the pie tin glaring at him again, and then finds out “sin is what you took and didn’t give back” (8). Gary has finally learned his lesson about sinning after everything he has been through. If people take something intentionally, but don’t give it back, it is sinning because nothing is returned to anyone. The person committing the sin will eventually feel worse than the other people being affected by it because they may not realize how the other person feels about it.
Soto’s description about guilt and stealing the pie really showed how he felt while doing these actions. It may have sounded tempting, but it later caught up to him due to him being caught by other people. If he listened to himself about stealing in the first place, none of this would have even happened. The good thing is that he learned from his mistake, and he knows about not doing it again. Sometimes, it could be a good thing to talk about so one can share the story with others, and the same mistake doesn’t happen to other people.
Struggles of Adulthood in Sandra Cisneros’s Eleven, Gary Soto’s the Bike, Eugenia Collier’s Marigolds
Struggle on the Road to Adulthood
There are many obstacles that are encountered while in the process of growing up, but most of these obstacles may appear during adolescence. In the three writings “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros, “The Bike” by Gary Soto, and “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, there are protagonists who experience the same struggles. These three protagonists, Rachel from “Eleven”, the boy from “The Bike”, and Lizabeth from “Marigolds” suffer struggles with adolescence. In “Eleven”, Rachel does not feel eleven on her eleventh birthday and cries when she is given a sweater that the teacher thought she owned. In “The Bike”, the boy visits the street that his mother has forbid him from visiting, and ends up injured when he allowed another boy to run his leg over with a tricycle. In “Marigolds”, Lizabeth realizes that she must now act mature after her last act of childhood, trampling, uprooting, destroying a neighbor’s marigolds. These three protagonists have experienced and overcame many struggles during adolescence, which means that there were obstacles in the process of growing up that the protagonists would have to overcome.
The story “Eleven” explains that not feeling as one is not of an older age is one struggle that can be encountered. Right before she recalls what happened during school on her eleventh birthday, Rachel explains, “You don’t feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don’t feel smart eleven” (Cisneros 1). This quote shows that one struggle with adolescence is that even on one’s birthday, one may not feel as they are of the older age, or at least not feel as smart as one of an older age. It takes a great while until one feels mentally older. Rachel feels as if she was not ten but eleven or one hundred and two, at least mentally, she would be able to avoid the incident that happened at school that day. As the incident occurred at the same day as her eleventh birthday, Rachel did not have time to grow mentally, as it takes a while according to the quote. Rachel’s experience is one of the many obstacles in adolescence, but the short story “The Bike” explains another struggle.
The story “The Bike” shows that realizing lies that are told by parents are lies, but not realizing why the parents tell such lies is another struggle with adolescence. As the boy rides his bike to Sarah Street, he boasted, “But I took the corner anyway. I didn’t believe Mom” (Soto 1). The boy is old enough to realize that a portion of the facts that he is told by his parents are just lies to keep him from performing actions that his parents disagree with. Unfortunately, he does not realize why his parents tell him the lies. The boy’s mother does not want him to ride to Sarah Street, explaining that it contained angry dogs, but it is simply a lie to keep the boy from riding to Sarah Street unsupervised and out of sight of his mother. Not knowing why the lie is told, the boy rides to Sarah Street, thinking his mother is simply lying and that there is nothing wrong with riding to the street that he is forbidden from riding to. The struggle in “The Bike” is another obstacle faced during adolescence, but the short story “Marigolds” explains a rather important struggle.
The short story “Marigolds” explains an important struggle: being required to act as more of an adult. After Lizabeth tramples and uproots Miss Lottie’s marigolds in her last act of childhood, she explains, “I gazed upon a kind of reality which is hidden to childhood. The witch is no longer a witch but only a broken old woman who had dared to create beauty in the midst of ugliness and sterility” (Collier 244). Lizabeth finally realizes after her last act of childhood that Miss Lottie is not a witch, but just a broken old woman. As Lizabeth must act as more of an adult now, she no longer sees bullying Miss Lottie with the children as fun, but as a malicious attack. As said in the quote, Miss Lottie just wanted to improve the look of the town by planting marigolds, but the children see that as awkward and out of place. The marigolds are the only objects that keep Miss Lottie happy, but the children, who are unhappy themselves, wanted to destroy them. The short story “Marigolds” explained one of the most important struggles with adolescence.
These three short stories are centered around the same important theme, the struggle with adolescence. The struggle of adolescence means that there are obstacles that must be overcome in the process of growing up. These obstacles include not feeling as if one is older, realizing the lies that parents occasionally tell their children but not why they tell the lies, and having to act as more of an adult. This theme is significant as many children today could encounter the same struggles and obstacles that the three protagonists have encountered. From observing how the protagonists overcame or experienced the struggles, children can learn morals and find out how to overcome the obstacles that they may encounter on the road to adulthood. If children manage to overcome struggles with adolescence, they can grow up with an easier life that is more free of stress. The text from these three short stories are important because of these reasons.