"Oranges" by Gary Soto

"Oranges" by Gary Soto
Gary Soto was born April 12, 1952, in Fresno, California to Mexican-American parents. His grandparents emigrated from Mexico during the Great Depression and found jobs as farm laborers. Soto grew up poor in the San Joaquin Valley and learned that hard work pays off through chores, such as moving lawns, picking grapes, painting houses, and washing cars.
When Gary was five his father died as the result of a factory accident, and his mother was left to raise her three children with the help of her parents. Soto describes his family as an ?illiterate? family. They did not have books and were not encouraged to read. In fact, Gary did not start writing poetry until he was in college. He also is an author of fiction, nonfiction, and picture books.

Soto earned an English degree at California State University at Fresno in 1974. He continued his education to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of California at Irvine. While working on his graduate work, Soto married Carolyn Oda, the daughter of Japanese-American farmers.

After receiving his master?s degree, Soto became writer-in-residence at San Diego State University and a lecturer in Chicano studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1977, he became an associate professor in both the Chicano studies and English departments at University of California, Berkeley, where he has been a senior lecturer since 1992. Soto also uses his own boyhood experiences as well as familiar streets in the Central Valley of California on which books and characters are based on.

Through the use of color, symbolism and imagery you can see why Gary Soto really entitled the poem ?Oranges,? and why oranges play such an important role in the poem. When I think of the orange fruit, I think of sweet juices and brightness. Brightness reminds people of good memories, and that?s one of the reasons why oranges were chosen as the fruit. Brightness shows how much power the orange actually has. The references in the story build up the power of the orange.

Soto talks about sacrifice, and we all go through that. What we do to please other people. The boy had to give up his orange because he didn?t have enough money. He told his girlfriend that she can chose any kind of candy found in the isle, and she chose a chocolate bar that cost a dime, now the boy only had a nickel and a pair of oranges in his pocket. Instead of feeling embarrassed and cheep in front of his new girl, the boy decided to put up the nickel and an orange on the counter for the saleslady.

Oranges are rare in the winter and their encounter might be precious. They convey a powerful feeling. Making fire in the hands represents that he is in love. That he feels God like, he feels tough like he can do it all when he?s around his girlfriend.

The tone of the poem is simple with broken down sentences. Adolescent love is simple much like childhood love. There are the sweaty hands, heavy breathing, butterflies in the stomach, but when kids fall in love, its not true love, it most likely is just a crush. The words that are used in the poem are not complex but short and meaningful. When reading between the lines, and reading the poem more than twice, it is much easier to put two and two together and have a better understanding.

Symbolism plays an important part when it comes to understanding the poem. The oranges weighing down the narrators jacket symbolize the way his love for the girl is weighing upon him. He just hopes that she likes him too. The newly planted Trees represent something new and young that will grow in the future, much like their love. At the end of the poem when the narrator talks about making fire in his hands, the fire equals love. It is the intensity of the young couples love.

Imagery is also important if you want to understand the poem a little deeper. December is always considered to be cold, dark and gloomy. In the poem Soto describes the weather in December as gray and frosty, but with its brightness the orange just melts the frost away. The girl?s porch light is always on despite the weather or the time, and it brings up light that in term reflects back to the brightness of the oranges. The bright rouge on her face links with the oranges and the light as well. Light is everlasting; it is eternal and can go on glowing forever. It seems to me that the eternal light is like their relationship will last even though they are still young and have a lot more to go through.

In short, oranges represent what their young love feeds off of which are warmth, love and understanding. Soto used imagery and symbolism to make the poem powerful, but what really made it powerful is his use of elements, characters, and the plot. There is a lot of reference to brightness, breathing, and light. Brightness and the light give the poem and the oranges more power, while the heavy breathing makes it seem more realistic because the twelve year old boy is nervous since he is out with his first girlfriend. The poem is very vivid as well as colorful. You can tell what the narrator feels, and even I could identify with him at some points.

"Oranges" by Gary Soto 7.3 of 10 on the basis of 3748 Review.