The Analysis Of The Story "A Summer’s Life" By Gary Soto Essay

In Gary Soto’s, “A Summer’s Life,” the author intensely revives the experience of his guilty six-year-old self. Gary Soto went to Catholic School, which fixed his perspective to be very religious. The story starts off with the main character, young Gary Soto, understanding the concept of hell and being holy, enough to know that he shouldn’t steal however when he does, he blames it on boredom. Soto engages in a reminiscent trip through the past of different forms of guilt and redemption using a variety of choices of figurative language like allusions, tone, and imagery.

As the story begins, young Soto is seduced by the beautiful array of pies in front of him and steals one out of boredom. While he walks out of the store with his pie, he believes that “‘no one saw’” (18). This is quite apparent when he left the store and no one gave him any attention however, once he heads across the street on someone’s lawn, he sees a “squirrel nailed itself on the trunk” (21) of a sycamore tree.

This aspect of the story enforces the idea that where no one sees him physically but there is a high being; God that is watching him. The allusion to the Bible is only further cemented when he sees the squirrel is nailed on the trunk, similar to the image of Jesus nailed on the cross when he died for the sins of his people. After his first bite, he remembers Adam and Eve and then taking a bite of the apple and he begins to panic “about stealing the apple pie” (31). What scared him “more than falling from grace was being thirsty” (35) for the rest of his life. Similar to Adam and Eve, he is tempted by an apple product, a pie, however this brings him more guilt as he remembers what happened to them and how they fell from grace and innocence.

The “thirst” that is brought up is his feeling of guilt that is wrenching at his body wanting more purity and that will always be on his shoulders as long as he sins, which is stealing and eating the pie. It is very prominent the way that he uses the allusion of the Bible to bring the feeling of guilt to the reader through the guiltiness of young Soto. As this is a narrative in the point of view of a six-year-old, the tone is similar to how you would expect a young child to speak like but the execution is from a older person. When he is running away from the market racing “on skinny legs… but slowed to a quick walk when [he] couldn’t wait any longer” (25).

This quote shows the excitement of a young child, one that is too excited to do anything but just cave in, a scenario unlike an adult that would wait until they are someplace secure. It also shows the tone of how the author is explaining this situation from a further date, an older perspective, which can be found as he calls himself “skinny” referring to his young, fragil body. After he eats all of the pie, he realizes there in his “tiny body of two hundred bones and three or four sins, that the best things in life came stolen” (42-43).

From this quote, we can tell that what young Soto is thinking is very candid, he is just thinks exactly how he felt and truthfully as well. This also shows a point of view that is older and more mature, as the author calls himself a person with a “tiny body… and three or four sins” referring to an innocent and young body, which a child of six years of age wouldn’t be able to think of at that time. This perspective of an matured person combined with the immaturity and candidness of a young child integrates the idea that a lesson is being taught, one that the author has been through, and one that is the guilt and paranoia in sin and how it affects your life.

Near the end of the narrative, after committing the sin, young Soto uses imagery to find redemption in the action that he did. Young Soto was bored and thirsty after walking around and drowning in his guilt, when he suddenly returns home to help his sister glue bottle caps. He decides to crawl underneath his house after helping out bores him and “the kitchen stifling with heat and lunatic flies” was overbearing and “lie in the cool shadows listening to the howling sound of plumbing” (72-73).

This imagery solidifies the idea that he was guilty and bored, something that had led him to sin and the images created in his house produced an idea relating to Hell, hot and suffocating however, he escapes to the bottom of the house where the images show that it is cool, easier to breathe, and spacious. From there, he relaxes and once cold, heads “back to the light, rising from one knee, then another, to dust off my pants and squint in the harsh light” (78).

This imagery is very descriptive in young Soto’s movements on getting up and the amount of light. The light represents Heaven or God something that is able to purify and push away the darkness that he has engulfed himself in. The specific way that the author describes himself getting up, begins with the image of him on both knees to get up, which is a stance used for prayer. Imagery like light, movement towards prayer, and Hell show that young Gary Soto was progressing toward maturity of understanding what he had done.

The religious aspects, descriptive imagery, and innocent tone allow the reader to understand why he continuously feel guilt and almost sympathize with the author. Throughout the narrative, the topic that sin is something you took and cannot get back is used when he takes the first bite, he undergoes a period of self realization that he would have to live with the guilt and paranoia, which leads him to find God and attempt to redeem himself. The author uses this narrative to show how sinning can affect you if you have a conscience unlike, the majority of the world that embraces sinning and the ignorance of the consequences.

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