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The Oranges by William Saroyan

Autor:   •  January 5, 2019  •  Essay  •  932 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,712 Views

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The text under analysis is a short story “The oranges” by William Saroyan, an Armenian-American novelist, playwright, and short story writer.

This story is about a young boy Luke, who has to live with his uncle Jake and his pregnant wife after the parent’s death. This family is extremely poor and the only way to get money for them is to sell oranges. Jake asks Luke to go to the corner of the street and to sell oranges. The problem is Luke does not attract clients because he cannot smile. He stands there for several hours but nobody buys anything.

The text is written with the touch of sadness, tragedy and desperation, as opposed to other stories by Saroyan there is no hope in the end and we do not believe that this family could manage with all the problems. Despite this fact, “The oranges” is a typical representation of his style. It tells us about poor family of immigrants and the author underlines it through the speech of the wife “You belong the same place your brother is, in the ground. Dead”. The main character has to sell oranges in order to get some money for the relatives, and we may suppose that it has some connections with Saroyan’s life, because he also had to sell vegetables. The themes of this short story are also typical for this author: the suffering of the child because of the parents’ death, the meaningless of life, the hardship of poor people etc. That is why there are so many repetitions of the words “laugh/laughing, smile/smiling, sad, cry, etc.” It is written in 3rd person narration, however we see everything from the boy’s point of view, moreover this effect is achieved by using a great number of rhetorical questions “He wanted to cry but what’s the use to cry when it don’t do any good anyhow?/ What’s the use to be in the world when you can’t even look at a fire hydrant without wanting to cry? Etc/ 

The main character lives in very poor conditions: he lost his parents and now there is no one to love him or, at least, he feels like that “What’s the use to be alive if you‘re all alone in the world and no mother and father and nobody to love you?”. He likes his uncle because he reminds him the father, Jake even “had that same desperate look his father had”, but this man cannot provide money or food for his family, that is why his wife is so angry, she is pregnant and the only food they have is oranges. She calls him a coward and they fighting and screaming all the time, this destructive atmosphere makes Luke even unhappier “It was this that made it hard for him to smile”. The boy does not see anything good in his life, and all his problem are strengthen by his aunt “How did she expect him to smile or feel all right when she was always telling them they were no good, the whole family no good?”.


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