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Analysis of “Fear” By Gary Soto

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    In his short story, “Fear”, Chicano author Gary Soto conveys that people can sympathize with what they fear and feel shamed for their actions and thoughts against it. He illustrates this by using his own experience in school as a prisoner to Frankie, an emotionally disturbed bully to show that he can somewhat understand why Frankie acts the way he does. Soto uses imagery and juxtaposition in order to reveal that things are not always what they seem and to convey the complexity of fear.

    He writes with a smooth voice that’s experienced in what it speaks of to an audience that may have been in a similar situation but handled it differently. Soto’s use of imagery in “Fear” lets the audience create a vivid mental picture that they can perhaps sympathize with better because of their own lucid experiences. Similes such as “breath sour as meat left out in the sun” and “teeth green like the underside of a rock” give clear images of the fear that Soto wrote about, Frankie.

    He also went into great detail when Frankie had him pinned, saying things like, “raise a shoulder in a halfhearted struggle” and “he let his drool yo-yo from his lips”. These quotes demonstrate how the story is true with its thorough explanations. Soto writes of fear’s complexity by also including imagery on how Frankie struggles. When Frankie’s mother goes to the Salvation Army, we can picture the “reformed alcoholics with veined noses” that fixed the broken toys. We also see the other side of the story when Soto goes into great detail on how Mr.

    Koligian treats Frankie in this quote, “Mr. Koligian pulled and tugged at his body until it was in his arms and then out of his arms as he hurled Frankie against the building. The complexity of fear is furthermore identified through Soto’s practice of juxtaposition between himself and his fear. “I sometimes walked around with cardboard in my shoes and socks. ” This quote shows how the author is in a similar situation of poverty as Frankie is. He later goes on to say that, “We knew his house and, for some, it was the same one to walk home to. Soto says this about himself and his fellow classmates because they truly did deal with some of the exact same issues at home.

    They all dealt with “the broken mother, the indifferent walls,” and “the refrigerator’s glare which fed the people no one wanted. ” Together they deal with some of the identical problems. Their parents may mistreat them due to financial problems or substance abuse, or they may come home to an empty fridge that reflects their sad faces back at them. The author’s juxtaposition shows that fear is complex and can easily be misjudged.

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