Eating Sugar Essay

1493 words - 6 pages

”Eating Sugar”

Since the dawn of civilization, people from different nations and cultures have crossed each other’s borders, both physically and mentally. Throughout history this has resulted in more or less dramatic events, stretching from the Spanish General Cortez’ annihilation of the Inca-empire in South America, to the joyful re-union of East and West Berlin in Germany. Today, the possibilities of exploring different cultures are limitless – with a sufficient amount of money and a valid passport, one could be sitting on an airplane flying to any destination in the whole world.

In the short story, “Eating Sugar”, we are introduced to Suzanne and her parents, Alex and Eileen. An ...view middle of the document...

He seems thrilled to meet the three Englishmen and gives them an enthusiastic traditional Thai greeting. Suzanne learns that Wirut, like herself, is a teacher living in the eastern part of Thailand. This shows that he has the same job as the daughter and the same purpose of being at the particular place as the parents – he is also a tourist on holiday. Despite this, Eileen reacts by asking Alex, in a very rude manner, whether Wirut is drunk; “’Is he drunk?’ Eileen hissed to Alex[2]”. Her restraint and fear towards the four men are supported by a narrative comment, presumably from Alex’ point of view; “Anything could happen… And she was right. So many surprises… The Land of Smiles; but also of pirates, and bandits[3]”. This view on Thai people is based on a prejudice and stands in complete contradiction to the actual meeting with the four friendly-minded Thais. Even when Wirut informs that a car will come along and pick them up, Eileen questions this, as his information does not live up to Western standards of precision; “Does he means one’s definitely coming, or he expects one will come?[4]”.
Another contradiction is Suzanne’s way of acting, compared to her parents. Her thoughts are, unlike the parents’ thoughts, only expressed through her actions and lines. The author uses this narrative limit to show that Suzanne, in contradiction to her parents, is calm and tolerant in the situation. With Suzanne being 21 years old this indicates a contradiction between young and old, as we also hear about how Alex and Eileen had been hitchhiking in Yugoslavia when they were young. It seems that growing older has made them more set in their ways of experiencing their surroundings, which is expressed as a paranoid reaction from Alex; “Whatever was going to happen, would now happen… Alex could feel the panic rising again, like vomit in his throat[5]”. The quotation shows how Alex’ thoughts stand in contrast to the actual situation, as there are no indications that the Thais would leave them behind. This leads to the further interpretation of the text, which will be discussed in the following.

The immediate absence of coherence between the actual events in the short story and Alex’ way of acting, can be explained by interpreting Alex and Eileen’s trip to Thailand as a ‘bad trip’ (the title, “Eating Sugar”, more than suggests this). The differences between England and Thailand seem to be overwhelming for the couple, the same way an LSD-trip can be overwhelming and frightening. When Alex memorises his and Eileen’s LSD-trip he even states that: “There were parallels[6]” and that “The foreignness of Thailand was mind-expanding… there was a surreal quality to the experience, your senses, understandings, constantly challenged[7].” Alex is acting like someone who has gone on a ‘bad trip’; he is paranoid and anxious and, more importantly, is the only one who can feel the danger they are in, after Eileen begins chatting with the Thais; “And he, alone, could see...

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