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Posted on July 26th, 2012, by

In order to enjoy life and get through the toughest times, one has to appreciate even the littlest things, like food.

Food often becomes an important symbol, which allows authors to express their thoughts and explain their messages to the readers. Sharing food can express sympathy, compassion and understanding towards one another. By eating food together, people can share many things and become closer and more personal.

Food has an important meaning in “A Small, Good Thing”¯ by Raymond Carver and “All You Can Eat”¯ by Robin Hemley. It also passes an important message in the film Chocolat. In each of these short stories and a movie, the food has different meaning, but there is one thing, which links them together. In both stories and a movie food becomes a way of communication between people and the main characters send messages to each other with the help of food.

“A Small, Good Thing”¯ by Raymond Carver is a story about loneliness, grief and compassion. Two parents, Ann and Howard, who lose their son Scotty when he is hit by a car just before his birthday. Ann orders a cake for his birthday, but one single incident takes her child away from her. Ann has to cancel her order for the cake. The baker, who was depressed and unfriendly in the beginning of the story, shows compassion and sincere attitude towards Ann and Howard. When the baker finds out that Scotty had died, he proposes the only thing he knows that can comfort people, eating. When he serves the hot rolls to Ann and Howard, he attempts to comfort them by explaining “Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this”¯ (Carver 29). “All You Can Eat”¯ by Robin Hemley is a story that describes one Sunday for one particular family. Hemley shows an ordinary family, consisting of three people and their ordinary Sunday. The protagonist, Jack is irritated by the obligation to spend time in Sunday all-you-can-eat pancake feast, rather than watching the news. During the entire story, Jack thinks about things, which separate him from his wife.

He is in a disbelieving mood. Syrup, which is commonly used during the meal, annoys him, but the reader can gradually see how his mood is changes. In both stories food has a special and symbolic meaning. It helps people to understand each other and serves as a mean of communication.

In the short story “A Small, Good Thing”¯ the food becomes a way to express feelings. The baker spends years in loneliness and isolation and he knows nothing but his work. Ann questions his personal life as she wonders “if he’d ever done anything else with his life besides be a baker”¯ (21). The author shows that anything can be used to express good attitude, sympathy and compassion. When true problems arise, people need simple and ordinary things that can help them come back to reality. When suggesting food for Scotty’s parents, the baker makes an emphasis on “small good things”¯, which become especially important in the most difficult times of our life. In 2000 film Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, food also has in important meaning. From the very beginning of the movie chocolate becomes a symbol of temptation and something forbidden.

In “All You Can Eat”¯, food is also symbolic, with the help of which, the author shows Jack’s feelings and attitudes. At the beginning of the story Jack is irritated with everything that surrounds him and strongly dislikes syrup, which is commonly used by the other people at the breakfast. By the middle of the story we notice certain changes. He looks at the people around him, at his wife and son and realizes that people enjoy things, he disgusts. “I look over at Jamie.

In between songs, he’s wolfing down pancakes like he’s never tasted food before. And the syrup. His pancakes are swimming in it”¯ (Hemley 68). Jack tries syrup with his pancakes and unexpectedly finds that pancakes and syrup can be tasty. He realizes that there are things in life to enjoy. By the end of the breakfast, we can see how his inner situation has changed, like his attitude to wards syrup. He begins to appreciate his wife, who he often criticizes, and explains, “I smile at Sarah. This hairstyle of hers is the most attractive thing in the world right now, except of course, for the pancakes with lots of syrup”¯ (70). The food that Jack eats with other people brings him inner transformation.

He realizes that small things, such as food, can bring joy. After he realizes what small things can bring, he is able to apply it to other spheres of his life, including relations with other people. In the film Chocolat, food also represents a very strong symbol. Vianne enters town during Lent initially, the townspeople are afraid to taste her chocolate because it is forbidden by their religion. Comte de Reynaud, a very religious mayor of the town, starts a campaign against Vianne and her shop. He believes that Vianne and her chocolates are a bad influence on citizens of his town.

He begins to understand that chocolate can become much more than a forbidden food and that it can also become a symbol of liberation and new way of thinking. Vianne didn’t only show people the way to enjoy a delicious chocolate, but she gave them their confidence back.Ā  Not realizing that, Vianne didn’t only bring a new type of food to the townspeople, but also new way of thinking to the religious town. She shows people that religion isn’t only strict and that the way to approach God isn’t by restricting him or herself. As the priest explains in his Easter sermon, that “God appreciates us not for what we do not do, but rather for what we do”¯. Following the Easter church service, Vianne teaches citizens to celebrate every moment of life and think about God not only when your are in need, but also when you are happy. She prepares a big chocolate feast for the whole town to enjoy and celebrate with one another.

Despite two stories and the movie contain different messages, all of them underline importance of small details in our life. Both authors choose food as the most common element. From one side food, occupies an important place in our life. Good food can boost our mood, can help us express feelings and help to regain health. On the other hand, people often forget about such small but important things in life. Being extremely busy, people forget about simple things, which can bring them joy and comfort. The movie, like the short stories, underlines one important message ”“ if you want to make your life comfortable and happy, even smallest things, such as food, can help you accomplish this. For example pancakes and syrup remind Jack about things he pass through in his life. The food proposed by the baker reminds Ann and Howard about small routine things, which help people to get through the hardest time of their life and chocolate from the movie helps people to remind about joy of life. The authors get the reader’s attention by using the minor things in their life, which they often miss. It is a pity we forget about these small things, because they make our life full and comfortable. Food becomes that first step which teaches us to enjoy our life. A person, who can enjoy food, can also understand other good things in life.

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