Decoding Symbolism: What Does Water Symbolize in “The Pie” by Gary Soto?

Have you ever taken a bite of a delicious pie and felt like you were transported to another world? Gary Soto’s The Pie is a short story that masterfully uses food as a symbol for the emotions and experiences the protagonist is going through. But there’s one element in the story that stands out on its own: water. The author uses it to create a sense of purity, innocence, and even temptation for the protagonist.

As readers, we’ve all come across stories that use water as a symbol for something beyond its physical properties. Whether it’s a river that represents the flow of life or the ocean as a metaphor for endless possibilities, water is a universal theme that resonates with us at a primal level. And in The Pie, we see how water is used to create a stark contrast with the protagonist’s harsh reality.

But what does water symbolize in The Pie specifically? Is it just another way for the author to showcase his mastery of metaphor, or does it hold a deeper meaning? In this article, we’ll explore the nuances of water in The Pie and how it connects with the protagonist’s internal struggles. So, grab a slice of your favorite pie and let’s dive in.

Symbolism in literature

Symbolism in literature is the use of symbols to represent a deeper meaning. These symbols can be objects, actions, or even words, that have a meaning beyond their literal definition. The use of symbolism in literature allows the author to convey a complex emotion or theme without explicitly stating it.

  • The symbolism in literature can be universal or specific to a culture, time period or literary work.
  • Symbolism can run throughout the entire work or be concentrated in one specific element such as water.
  • Water is a common symbol in literature that can represent life, purity, cleansing, and renewal.

In Gary Soto’s “The Pie,” water is used as a powerful symbol to represent both life and cleansing. The passage reads,

“…and although he felt all his senses wince, he became hooked when he dipped his finger in the water jug and tasted the clean, cold liquid sliding down his dry throat. It was like drinking ice water on a scorching day, like taking in the purest breath of air.”

Here we see the water representing life and purity. The boy, who has been described as dirty and “pigeon-toed”, is longing for a refreshing drink of water. The water symbolizes not only his physical thirst but also his emotional thirst to feel clean and pure. The boy’s act of drinking the water can be seen as a cleansing of his past actions.

SymbolMeaning
WaterLife, purity, cleansing, renewal

The use of water as a symbol in “The Pie” highlights the importance of symbolism in literature. Through the use of this symbol, Soto is able to convey a deeper meaning and emotion without explicitly stating it. This allows the reader to connect with the character and the story on a more profound level.

Gary Soto’s Writing Style

Gary Soto’s writing style in “The Pie” is unique and engaging, capturing the reader’s attention from the very beginning. He incorporates vivid imagery and sensory details to bring the story to life. Soto masterfully uses descriptive language to paint a picture of the narrator’s surroundings. For example, he writes, “The sun and my heart were in competition to see which was hotter,” giving readers a sense of the intense heat of the day.

Soto also has a talent for exploring complex themes and ideas through simple and relatable stories. He uses the symbolism of water throughout the story to represent the desire for knowledge and the thirst for something more in life.

Symbolism of Water

  • Water symbolizes knowledge and education. The narrator’s thirst for knowledge is represented by his desire for water. He is willing to do almost anything to quench his thirst, just as he is willing to do anything to get an education.
  • Water also symbolizes life and growth. The narrator feels a sense of renewal and rejuvenation after drinking the water. This represents his personal growth and development.
  • Finally, water symbolizes purity and innocence. The narrator’s love interest, Teresa, is associated with water because of her purity and innocence. The narrator wants to impress her and be a better person for her, just as he wants to quench his thirst for knowledge.

The Role of Food

Food plays an important role in “The Pie,” representing the narrator’s desires and aspirations. The pie itself is a symbol of temptation and desire. The narrator is tempted to steal it, just as he is tempted to do other things that he knows he shouldn’t.

The act of stealing and eating the pie represents the narrator’s desire for something more in life. He wants to break out of the cycle of poverty and achieve success. However, he also realizes that success comes with a price, just as eating the pie comes with consequences.

The Importance of Memories

Soto uses memories throughout “The Pie” to give readers a glimpse into the narrator’s past experiences and emotions. Memories play an important role in shaping who we are and how we view the world. For the narrator, memories of his childhood shape his desires and aspirations.

MemorySignificance
The narrator’s mother making a cake for his birthdayRepresents the narrator’s desire for love and attention
The narrator stealing a pie for the first timeRepresents the narrator’s temptation and desire for something more in life
The narrator’s father’s disapproval of stealingRepresents the narrator’s struggle between right and wrong

Overall, “The Pie” is a powerful story that explores themes of desire, temptation, and growth. Soto’s writing style and use of symbolism and memories make the story engaging and thought-provoking.

Coming-of-age stories

Coming-of-age stories are a popular genre in literature, often focusing on a young protagonist’s journey from adolescence to adulthood. The Pie by Gary Soto is a prime example of a coming-of-age story, following the main character’s journey as he grows and matures.

Symbolism of water in The Pie

  • Water is a recurring symbol throughout The Pie, representing the main character’s journey towards self-discovery and maturity.
  • In the beginning of the story, water is associated with fear and discomfort, as the protagonist struggles to swim in the community pool.
  • As the story progresses, water takes on a more positive connotation, symbolizing growth and change.

The significance of the number 3

The number 3 is a recurring motif in The Pie, and serves to highlight the main character’s journey towards maturity.

Firstly, the story is divided into three main sections: the setup, the conflict, and the resolution. This structure mirrors the traditional three-act structure commonly used in storytelling.

Additionally, the number 3 is present in the protagonist’s journey towards maturity. He experiences three key realizations throughout the story:

RealizationSignificance
He is no longer a childThe protagonist begins to understand that he is growing up and must take responsibility for his actions.
He needs to be truthfulThe protagonist learns the importance of honesty and how it can impact his relationships.
He needs to make amendsThe protagonist realizes that he has hurt others and must take steps to make things right.

By incorporating the number 3 into the story, Soto emphasizes the main character’s growth and transformation, as well as the universal themes of coming-of-age stories.

Hispanic-American Literature

The Pie by Gary Soto is a classic example of Hispanic-American literature. This literary genre refers to works written by authors of Hispanic descent living in the United States. The stories often revolve around the experiences of Hispanic Americans, including their traditions, customs, and struggles. The Pie explores themes of poverty, childhood innocence, and the desire for a better life.

Water Symbolism in The Pie

  • Water is a recurring symbol in The Pie, representing purity and innocence. The main character, a young Hispanic boy, washes his hands three times before stealing the apple pie. This symbolizes his desire to cleanse himself of sin before committing the act.
  • The boy’s desire for water also highlights his impoverished upbringing. He dreams of having his own swimming pool, a symbol of prosperity and success.
  • Finally, the rain that falls on the boy as he eats the stolen pie can be seen as a metaphor for baptism, washing away his guilt and shame.

Hispanic-American Identity

The Pie also touches on themes of Hispanic-American identity and the struggle to fit in. The main character feels embarrassed by his poverty and ashamed of his Hispanic heritage. He desires to be like the white children in his neighborhood, who have swimming pools and eat apple pie whenever they want. At the same time, the boy feels a strong connection to his culture, including the tradition of sharing food with family and friends.

This struggle for identity is a common theme in Hispanic-American literature, reflecting the experience of many first-generation immigrants. They must navigate a new culture while preserving their own heritage and traditions.

Symbolism Table

SymbolismMeaning
WaterPurity, innocence, poverty
Swimming poolProsperity, success
Apple pieDesire, temptation, tradition
RainBaptism, cleansing, renewal

The use of water, swimming pools, apple pie, and rain in The Pie highlights the struggle for identity and the desire for a better life. These symbols reflect the experiences of many Hispanic Americans, who navigate poverty, discrimination, and the challenge of maintaining their cultural heritage.

Importance of Setting in Literature

Setting is a crucial element in literature, as it provides readers with contextual information, enhances the atmosphere, and reinforces the themes of the story. In Gary Soto’s “The Pie,” the setting plays a significant role in symbolizing the protagonist’s emotional state and the key themes of the story.

What Does Water Symbolize in “The Pie”?

  • Water as a Symbol of Baptism
  • Water as a Symbol of Renewal and Redemption
  • Water as a Symbol of Cleansing

How the Setting Reflects the Protagonist’s Emotional State and the Story’s Themes

Throughout “The Pie,” the setting changes to reflect the protagonist’s emotional state. At the beginning of the story, the setting is dry and dusty, with the protagonist feeling empty and unfulfilled. However, as the story progresses, water is introduced and becomes a recurring symbol of renewal, redemption, and cleansing. The rain that falls before the protagonist steals the pie serves as a baptism, washing away his sins and offering him a chance at redemption.

The pond that the protagonist encounters after stealing the pie represents the possibility of a new beginning. The water in the pond is clear and reflects the sky, symbolizing the clarity and beauty of the protagonist’s newfound perspective. Additionally, the pond provides a space for the protagonist to reflect on his past mistakes and gain a greater understanding of his own character.

Symbolism of Water in “The Pie”: Table

Symbolic ElementMeaning
RainBaptism, renewal, redemption
PondCleansing, reflection, clarity
Water FaucetAccess to purity, desperation, temptation

Overall, water plays a significant role in “The Pie,” serving as a symbol of renewal, redemption, and cleansing. Through the use of water symbolism, Soto effectively highlights the protagonist’s emotional journey and reinforces the story’s themes of forgiveness and redemption.

Themes in “The Pie”

The Symbolism of Water in “The Pie”

In “The Pie” by Gary Soto, water is a prevalent symbol that represents both cleansing and renewal. Throughout the text, the main character describes how water is used to wash away the dirt from the riverbank as well as wash his hands after eating the pie. This symbolizes the idea of washing away one’s sins and starting anew.

Furthermore, water is also used to symbolize the beauty and freedom found in nature. The narrator is mesmerized by the sparkling water and the “strange swirls” in the river, which represent the magic and wonder of life.

  • The symbol of water represents cleansing and renewal
  • Water symbolizes the beauty and freedom of life in nature

The Theme of Temptation

Another important theme in “The Pie” is the idea of temptation, specifically in regards to the urge to indulge in something one knows they shouldn’t. In the story, the narrator describes his inner struggle as he debates whether or not to steal the pie that he sees cooling on the windowsill.

As he gives in to the temptation and devours the pie, he experiences guilt and shame, which showcases the consequences of indulging in our desires without thinking about the potential outcomes.

The Contrast Between Innocence and Maturity

Additionally, “The Pie” explores the contrast between innocence and maturity through the eyes of the narrator. The narrator is torn between his desire to keep his innocence intact and the realization that he is growing up and has to make difficult decisions.

As he describes the swirls in the river, he longs for the simplicity of childhood and the freedom that comes with it. However, when faced with taking responsibility for his actions and making choices for himself, the narrator understands that growing up means accepting the consequences of his actions.

ThemesSymbolism
TemptationPie
Innocence vs. MaturitySwirls in the River
Cleansing and RenewalWater

Overall, “The Pie” by Gary Soto explores complex themes such as temptation, growing up, and the beauty and magic of life. Through the use of powerful symbolism and vivid imagery, Soto creates a timeless story that speaks to readers of all ages and backgrounds.

Food as a Symbol in Literature

Food, as a symbolic element, has been used by many writers to represent themes and ideas in their work. In Gary Soto’s “The Pie,” the act of eating a pie becomes a symbol for temptation and guilt. Another symbol that appears in the story is water, which is used to represent purity and innocence. Let’s take a closer look at what water symbolizes in “The Pie.”

The Symbolic Meaning of Water in “The Pie”

  • Water is first introduced in the story when the narrator and his friend take a dip in the river. This symbolizes their innocence and carefree nature.
  • Later in the story, the narrator finds himself washing his hands after stealing a pie. This can be seen as an attempt to wash away his guilt.
  • The image of water reappears at the end of the story when the narrator sees his mother washing dishes. This symbolizes the purity and innocence that the narrator has lost.

A Comparison of Water and Food Symbolism

While food and water can both be used as symbolic elements in literature, they often represent different things. In the case of “The Pie,” food represents temptation and guilt while water symbolizes purity and innocence. This is a common theme in literature where food is often used to represent the darker sides of human nature while water represents purification and redemption.

SymbolRepresentation
FoodTemptation, guilt, sin
WaterPurity, innocence, redemption

Overall, the use of water as a symbol in “The Pie” adds depth and complexity to the story. It allows the reader to explore themes of innocence, guilt, and redemption in a deeper way. This is just one example of how food and water can be used as powerful symbolic elements in literature.

Literary Devices Used in “The Pie”

The short story “The Pie” by Gary Soto is a wonderful example of rich, descriptive prose that incorporates various literary devices. In this article, we will explore what water symbolizes in “The Pie” and the literary devices used in the story to create a deeper meaning.

The Number 8

One literary device used in “The Pie” is the use of the number 8. Eight is a significant number in many cultures, and it has various meanings attached to it. In “The Pie,” eight symbolizes the narrator’s age when he commits the sin of stealing a pie.

On the surface, eight seems like an unremarkable number, but upon closer examination, it carries multiple connotations. Firstly, eight is a symbol of new beginnings and fresh starts. In numerology, the number 8 is associated with balance and harmony, indicating that the narrator is at a crossroads in his life where he must make a crucial decision.

Secondly, eight is considered a lucky number in many cultures. It is often linked with prosperity, success, and wealth. However, in “The Pie,” eight is not a fortunate number. Instead, it serves as a reminder of the narrator’s guilt and shame. He stole the pie, and even though he was only eight, he knew it was wrong.

Lastly, eight is linked to cycles and patterns. In Chinese culture, eight is traditionally believed to bring good luck because it sounds like the word for “prosperity.” In “The Pie,” eight is a symbol of the circular nature of life. The narrator’s actions are cyclical, and he must come to terms with the consequences of his actions.

The use of the number 8 allows the reader to understand the narrator’s predicament. The narrator is at a crossroads in his life, where he must choose between good and evil. The number 8 represents the balance of these opposing forces.

Analysis of the main character’s perspective

Water is a prominent symbol in Gary Soto’s “The Pie”. The main character, a young boy filled with guilt and shame, sees the water as a way to cleanse himself and make amends for his wrongdoing. Throughout the story, the significance of water changes as the boy begins to go through a transformation. One crucial aspect to examine is the appearance of the number 9 in relation to the water symbol.

The Number 9

  • In the story, the boy states that he and his friend stole “nine bucks” from the local market, which serves as the catalyst for his guilt and shame.
  • Water is first introduced in the story when the boy sees a neighbor’s pool and wonders how deep it is. The pool is “only nine feet long,” another significant appearance of the number 9.
  • The number 9 appears again when the boy fills up a balloon with water to throw at his friend, exclaiming “Nine more.” This moment represents the boy’s release of his guilt and shame as he is finally able to enjoy himself, albeit for a brief moment.

The appearance of the number 9 in relation to the water symbol signifies the boy’s desire to wash away his guilt and shame. In numerology, the number 9 symbolizes forgiveness, humanitarianism, and selflessness. These themes are evident in the story as the boy tries to make amends for his wrongdoings. The water symbol represents purification and renewal, and the appearance of the number 9 reinforces this notion.

The boy’s perspective changes throughout the story, and the significance of water evolves with him. Initially, water represents a way to cleanse himself of his wrongdoings, but as he goes through a transformation, he begins to associate water with pleasure and enjoyment. This shift is evident during the climax of the story when the boy and his friend laugh and play in the rain. Water becomes a symbol of joy and freedom.

A Conclusion of Symbolism

In conclusion, water plays a significant role in Gary Soto’s “The Pie.” The number 9 appears in relation to the water symbol, reinforcing the boy’s desire to wash away his guilt and shame. As the story progresses, the symbolism evolves as the boy goes through a transformation. Water becomes a symbol of joy and freedom, representing the boy’s release and ability to enjoy life once again.

SymbolMeaning
WaterPurification, renewal, joy, and freedom
Number 9Forgiveness, humanitarianism, selflessness

The combination of these symbols creates a multi-layered story that explores themes of guilt, shame, forgiveness, and joy. Gary Soto masterfully uses symbolism to convey the emotional journey of the young boy and creates a story that resonates long after the last page is turned.

Impact of societal norms on the main character’s actions.

The societal norms of the time are a crucial factor in shaping the main character’s actions in “The Pie” by Gary Soto. As a young Mexican-American boy growing up in the 1960s, the main character is constantly surrounded by societal expectations that dictate how he should behave and what he should do. These expectations are deeply ingrained in the culture and the people around him, and the main character has no choice but to conform or risk being excluded and ostracized.

  • One of the most significant societal norms that influence the main character’s actions is the idea of masculinity. In his community, being a “real man” means being tough, strong, and able to take care of oneself and one’s family. This norm is reinforced by the main character’s father, who constantly emphasizes the importance of physical strength and resilience.
  • Another societal norm that impacts the main character is the expectation of obedience and respect towards authority figures. Throughout the story, the main character is shown to be deferential towards adults, whether they are his teachers, his parents, or the police. This norm is a product of the larger cultural values of respect and deference towards elders and authority figures.
  • The main character’s desire to fit in and be accepted by his peers is another societal norm that shapes his actions. He is acutely aware of his status as an outsider in his predominantly white, middle-class neighborhood, and he is eager to prove himself to the other kids. This desire for acceptance leads him to take risks and engage in behaviors that he might not otherwise choose to do.

Finally, the societal norm of racial and ethnic discrimination is another significant factor in the main character’s actions. As a Mexican-American, he is constantly subjected to discrimination and bigotry from the white people around him. This discrimination affects his sense of self-worth and his willingness to stand up for himself.

Societal NormImpact on Main Character
Idea of masculinityMain character is pressured to be tough and resilient.
Expectation of obedience and respect towards authority figuresMain character is deferential towards adults and authority figures.
Desire for acceptance from peersMain character takes risks and engages in behaviors to be accepted.
Racial and ethnic discriminationMain character’s sense of self-worth is affected.

In conclusion, the societal norms of the time have a profound impact on the main character’s actions in “The Pie” by Gary Soto. These norms shape his behavior and influence how he interacts with the world around him. By understanding the ways in which societal norms affect our actions, we can gain a deeper insight into the complex forces that shape our lives.

FAQs: What Does Water Symbolize in The Pie by Gary Soto?

1. What is the significance of water in The Pie?

Water symbolizes purity and innocence in The Pie. When the protagonist washes his hands in the river before stealing the pie, it represents his attempt to cleanse himself of guilt before committing the act.

2. How does water connect to the theme of morality in The Pie?

Water in The Pie is connected to the theme of morality because it represents the protagonist’s struggle to differentiate between right and wrong. The river represents a clear divide between the temptation of the pie and the protagonist’s desire to do what is right.

3. Does water in The Pie have any religious symbolism?

There are religious connotations associated with water in The Pie. Water is often seen as a symbol of rebirth and baptism. The act of washing one’s hands can be seen as an attempt at repentance.

4. How does the use of water in The Pie contribute to the overall tone of the story?

The use of water in The Pie creates a sense of innocence and purity in the story that contrasts with the protagonist’s guilt. The river represents a boundary between right and wrong and the protagonist’s decision to cross that boundary.

5. Does the symbolism of water change throughout the story?

The symbolism of water evolves throughout the story. Initially, water represents purity and innocence, but as the protagonist steals the pie, it takes on a darker meaning. Water then symbolizes the protagonist’s hope for forgiveness and redemption.

6. What is the effect of water as a symbol in The Pie?

The use of water as a symbol in The Pie highlights the moral struggle of the protagonist. It also amplifies the guilt the protagonist feels after stealing the pie and his attempt at redemption.

7. Does water have a significant role in the resolution of The Pie?

Water plays a significant role in the resolution of The Pie. The protagonist jumps into the river to escape from the angry dog, and this act symbolizes his willingness to pay the price of his wrongdoing.

Closing Thoughts

Water in The Pie has a significant symbolic role. It represents the protagonist’s struggle to differentiate between right and wrong, his desire for redemption and overall morality, amplifying the guilt he feels for stealing the pie. We hope this article has helped you understand the symbolism behind water in The Pie by Gary Soto. Thank you for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!