Friday, July 13, 2012

Essay on the Pickle Man

Directions: Analyze the following passage and write an essay explaining what the author is trying to convey to the reader:
The pickle smells bad.

The author doesn’t like pickles?

Wrong. The author never said he/she didn’t like pickles. You have to think critically. Analyze it carefully.

First, notice the diction. The author writes, “The pickles”. Right away, he/she starts with the subject, being very direct. The sentence itself is not complex, meaning that he/she meant this as a very blunt, straight foward message. “The”, not “A”. Why? Because, the author doesn’t just mean any pickle. It is THAT pickle. And just one. Not “the pickleS”, probably signifying either loneliness or abandonment. Why else? Why not all pickles? Perhaps he/she does not find ALL pickles to be stinky. Perhaps this is the only pickle around. There is something unique about this pickle that causes him/her to remark upon it, so keep that in mind as we read on.

The pickle also represents change. All pickles are born as cucumbers. Some remain that way until the end, but others, such as this one, are left to undergo a long process, resulting in entirely different smells, tastes, textures, etc. So, this cucumber was abandoned, left alone, and because of its environment, changed into a different type of food. People who once liked it may not like it anymore, while others who never looked twice at it now see it in a whole new way. This may symbolize the author’s reflection on his/her own life. Perhaps he/she was abandoned, and because of it, became a whole new person.

Now, let’s look at the next word: “smells”. Again, why? There are so many other senses, why pick scent? Did the pickle not look different? Did it not taste different? We may be able to infer that the author was perhaps blind. He/she relies on his/her sense of smell to judge this food item.

Finally, the word “bad”. Why is it such a simple word? It is probably one of the first words we learn as children to describe our disliking of something. This could reflect innocence. A simple disliking, rather than a murderous hatred. The cucumbers do not wish to kill the pickle. The author conveys to the reader that the pickle smells bad, but not that he/she does not like the smell of that pickle, even though it is obvious that it is so. It is stated simply as a fact of their society, rather than opinion, so that it cannot be detected as a judgement and the others cucumbers need not feel guilt for labeling the pickle.

Summary: If we replaced the word “pickle” with “man”—

The man smells bad. He was once a “cucumber”, but left abandoned, he became a whole new food item. He does not try to deny it though. He is very straightfoward with the facts. But at the same time he feels judged. People automatically “smell” him as fowl, before they ever “taste” him, or see what is inside him. His old raw vegetable friends no longer accept him even though in all honesty, he is still made of the same stuff. He hasn’t fogotten what it’s like to be a cucumber, but just because he’s different on the outside now, he has to find a new a new part of the refridgerator to live in. At the same time, it is not personal. It does not state “I do not like the pickle because it smells bad”, delineating that the man’s simple existence (not any of his actions) is a negative thing, and is not merely the opinion of another person/vegetable. Little did anyone know that cucumbers are actually fruits. His cucumber family works hard together to fool the other vegetables into thinking that they’re vegetables too, otherwise they’d all be kicked out. They wouldn’t fit in with the other fruits because they just aren’t sweet enough. So when the “pickle” of the family becomes obviously different, they ostracize him even though they are more like him than all the other vegetables— even though they came from the same roots. All for the sake of fitting in…

What the author is trying to describe here is: racism, and betrayals within own families to avoid the sufferings of being different--to simply belong. And how hard and lonely it is for the man who has been ostracized by his family, when he has already undergone so many hardships to become the pickle/man he is today. He never wanted to be a pickle. It wasn't his fault. Ah, the poor much pain for one fruit to bear...

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