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Eating Sugar

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Submitted By Henriette96
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Eating sugar - Essay
The unknown and the insecure are in many ways one of the biggest fear factors to human beings. It is the fear of not knowing what’s next and how to handle it. The fear of not knowing how to react and the fear of not knowing how to protect yourself and your nearest in a threatening situation.
In the short story Eating Sugar, facing your fears is the theme. In addition the story also deals with the differences between how the young and the old handle unknown places and situations. The story takes place in a forest in Thailand. A place that for the daughter Suzanne is perceived as an experience, but for the parents Eileen and Alex, is an unknown and insecure place to be. Eileen indirectly expresses (p.9, l. 79): “Anything could happen” which proves the fact that she is afraid and that fear comes with the old age and with the responsibility of having a daughter you think you still need to take care of. Eileen and Alex acts reserved against the situation of being in the forest without knowing how to get home and they only imagine all the things that could go wrong. Whereas Suzanne takes it all more calm, lives in the present and doesn’t think about what might go wrong. In that way it illustrates how the role as the family protector has actually been reversed by the way the parents have been brought on insecure ground and depends on the daughters acts and knowledge of Thailand.
The father, Alex, doesn’t express his fear of the unknown situation, at least not in the same apparent way as the mother, Eileen. But on the inside, he is crammed with fear and thoughts about how he is going to protect his family against possible threatening situations practiced by the Thais (p. 9, l. 76-77) “There were four of them, and only himself, with his wife and daughter”. Alex is grateful to Eileen for expressing her fear while, as it’s expressed in the text (p. 8, l. 21-22): “Her constantly-expressed anxiety kept his own fear suppressed” and in that way he can maintain the picture of him being the family protector and not showing that he is afraid.
As Suzanne is the one on more sure ground than her parents, the family roles, as formerly mentioned, have been reversed - (p. 11, l. 128): “Suzanne smiled at him as if he was an overwrought child”. Suzanne is now the “adult” who calms down and takes care of her parents while she knows a bit of the language and people of Thailand. This comes to expression in the way she converses with the Thais, remains open-minded and, as expressed in the text (p. 8, l. 16 and p. 8, l. 36): “You OK, Dad?” and “…Chill out, Mum.” asks to her parents well-being.

At the end of the story both Eileen and Alex loosen up. The Thais offers them a beer and a ride home, and Eileen actually starts chatting with the Thai Wirut. They get convinced that there is nothing to be afraid of and Alex draws parallels from this situation to an episode that happened in Eileen and his younger days. Parallels that also includes the meaning of the story’s title. As youngsters they had been fearless and innocent people and they had dared to do wild and limit breaking things. Once they had taken a tab of LSD and Eileen had ended up feeling bad and deeply anxious. To make the anxiousness go away she had eaten sugar straight from the bag, following a myth about sugar could bring you out of the state of intoxication. After eating the sugar, Eileen could actually enjoy the sensuous LSD impression. The same happens when Wirut’s car arrives and Eileen and Alex finally realize that there is nothing to be afraid of. Sitting in the car, it’s like they have both been eating sugar and suddenly they enjoy the beautiful landscape and as expressed in the text (p. 11): “The rushing air was wonderful against the dampness of Alex’s skin. Energy, life, was flooding back into him.” And when they start singing a pop song from their youth, Alex once again gets reminded about their days as brave, experimental and not least, trusting, longhaired innocents.
The story shows that even though the unknown and the insecure is one of the biggest fear factors to human beings, it is possible to conquer it. Both the flashback to the LSD trip and the situation in Thailand is symbols of humans’ need to escape from things that are unknown and frightens them. But it is also a symbol of how conquering your fear can lead to a challenge of your senses and a wider understanding of experiences you wouldn’t have been able to understand if you hadn’t tried it yourself. You have to meet your fear, live it through and get out on the other side with understanding and experience.

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