What Is The Theme Of The Pie By Gary Soto

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At some point in almost everyone’s childhood, there is a moment of deliberate wrongdoing, followed by panic and guilt. Perhaps it is standing on the water spout outside the house and neglecting to inform an adult when the pipe breaks and spews water into the backyard. Maybe it is lying to a parent about the whereabouts of a dollar after the ice cream truck goes by. For author Gary Soto, it was stealing a pie from the neighborhood grocery store. In his autobiography, Soto recounts the story and emotions of his six-year-old self taking an apple pie off the rack and walking home with it, only to be overwhelmed by a guilt-ridden conscience. Throughout the narrative, Soto uses imagery and precise diction to recreate his experiences as a guilty…show more content…
He “knew enough about hell to stop [him] from stealing” and was “holy in almost every bone”. Soto’s diction makes it clear that his younger self was well behaved because he was scared of the consequences of sin, but not necessarily because he wanted to be good. It also implies that even fear could not stop the most mischievous parts of him. Regardless of his willingness to behave, the young Soto truly believed in a God, and often saw “shadows of angels” and heard “faraway messages in the plumbing”. These symbols appear throughout the passage in order to show how sin changed Soto’s interpretation of them. The narrative continues, and the young boy stands in a German Market, staring at pies. As he ponders which type to steal, the “juice of guilt” wets his armpits and he “nearly [weeps] trying to decide”. This imagery of wetness is associated with his sin, and strongly contrasts the dryness of “the flowery dust priests give off”. The opposing wet and dry imagery show that the boy is sometimes bored with the dryness of religion, but the possibility of stealing a pie both terrifies and excites him. Once again, he is reminded of “the proximity of God howling in the plumbing”…show more content…
This changes with the appearance of Cross-Eyed Johnny, a neighborhood boy who asks for some pie and is denied. Soto continues to eat, but “tears blurred [his] eyes as [he] remembered the grocer’s forehead”. This time, the mention of tears is not “because it was about the best thing [he] had ever tasted” but rather because he felt true guilt. He is reminded of the angelic grocer, and even though he is beginning to feel horrible continues to stuff his face with pie. Cross-Eyed Johnny comments, “your hands are dirty,” before “[climbing] his roof” to watch the other boy eat. This once again brings up the symbolism of dirty hands, as though they are tainted with sin. The symbolism intensifies as Cross-Eyed Johnny “[jumps] off and [hobbles] away because the fall had hurt him”. This represents a fall from grace, for the young Soto has committed perhaps the worst sin of his six-year-long life. He begins to feel paranoid and sees “the pie tin [glaring] at [him]” and feeling his face “sticky with guilt”. The personification of the pie tin shows that the boy feels like he is being watched and judged for his sin, and wet imagery is once again used to describe the stickiness of guilt. The sweetness was too tempting to resist, but now he has to deal with the guilt that clings to him covers his conscience. As he sits on the curb, “A car

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