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Essay of a Fortune

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Essay of ”A Fortune”
One of the most important things in life is to feel, that you are worth something. Otherwise you will live your whole life longing for a future where people will recognize and appreciate the greatness of your being. But this acknowledgement is not to be found among other people. You have to find it in yourself, which can be an almost impossible challenge and the process towards self-knowledge can be both painful and confusing. This challenge is what the protagonist or the “I” of the short story A Fortune by Joy Monica T. Sakaguchi has to face on his way to accept himself. In A Fortune the story is told in first person, which means that the narrator of the story is the “I” and that the story is described from his point of view. As a result we can quite easily relate to the “I” and thus we almost immediately sympathize with him, because we know his each and every thought and feeling. The “I” is the kind of person who yearns for people, his father in particular, to recognize his worth and appreciate him. We see this in lines 13-14, where he talks about his father: “(…) I just didn’t want to know how much Pop thought I was worth.” After his father leaves the “I” keeps doing pickpocketing, because he wants to prove himself to his father by giving him all the money, when he comes back. The “I” is for that reason focusing on the future all along, which probably lies at the root of him being so excessively fond of fortune cookies, because they tell you about the great things, which the future holds in store for you. In addition to the main character we have the young boy Jeremy, who is almost the very picture of the “I” as a child. Jeremy isn’t like other kids at his age; he is quiet and keeps his eyes down, so that he won’t upset his father, who only sees all the things Jeremy does wrong. You can clearly see how the “I” empathizes with Jeremy. It says in lines 46-47 “(..) From the moment I saw him I felt that there was something familiar about him.”, and in lines 67-68 the “I” says: “(…) but I was kind of worried that the kid would get more flack”. He identifies himself with him and therefore he feels sorry for the Jeremy. This is why he is “acting really crazy” and asks the Jeremy to come with him. But it’s first when Jeremy shows interest for the fortune cookies that he really realizes that Jeremy is just like him and therefore he feels an urge to tell the boy, how much he is worth: “(…) I know what you are, kid. You’re tremendous.” The next thing I knew tears began to fall down my face. “Do you hear me! Do you? You’re special. You’re not stupid!”(…) “You’re tremendous, kid. You have to believe that” I don’t know if he understood me because I was crying so hard. Just crying and rocking back and forth saying, “You’re tremendous, tremendous.”” (lines 124-132). Even though this “speech” is directed to Jeremy, he ends up almost talking to himself. For example when he says:”You’re not stupid!”, it’s not only because Jeremy was called stupid, but also because his own father always called him stupid, which he mentions in the beginning of the story in line 9. These are also the lines where the “I” actually undergoes a transformation, because these are the lines where he acknowledges his own worth, which becomes even more distinct in lines 134-135, where he comments: “(…) I felt different. I felt good. Today was Monday, the start of a new week.”. And as well as Monday is the start of a new week, this point is also the start of a new and better life for the “I”. So on top of trying to make Jeremy feel worth something, the “I” of the story also learns to appreciate himself without the corroboration from his father. To sum up the story is about the importance of appreciating yourself and knowing your own worth and how difficult this process can be. But another significant message is that you don’t need a fortune to feel worth a fortune, which leads us to the title A Fortune. Of course the title refers to fortune cookies, which the “I” sees as a prediction of the happiness, which awaits him, when his father returns. But likewise it refers to the last line of the story:”He didn’t know what a fortune he had anyways.”, where the “I” realizes that he himself is worth a fortune even though the line is aimed at Jeremy. The “I” has with this acknowledgement reached a new chapter of his life where happiness isn’t just something he has to read about in a fortune cookie, but something he can accomplish because he doesn’t have to wait for his father anymore.
Written by Astrid Kær Rishøj

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