The Theme of Committing a Sin in Gary Soto’s a Summer Life

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The Theme of Committing a Sin in Gary Soto’s a Summer Life

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The Cursed Pie

In the excerpt of A Summer Life, Gary’s conscience bothers him because it reveals his guilt about why he stole the pie and how he regrets this sin he has committed. Even though he was tempted to steal the pie, he didn’t think about the consequences of this action. In the passage, Soto argues that doing the right thing is better than committing a sin because of religion, getting caught eventually, and learning a simple lesson the hard way.

Soto learned a lot from his religion when he was younger. One of his main thoughts is about it is that he “knew enough about hell to stop [himself] from stealing. [He] was holy in almost every bone” (Soto 1). Soto argues that stealing is wrong because of the consequences that can happen if one decides to steal. He also isn’t 100% holy due to the fact that he already sinned. Even though he knew about sinning being wrong, it doesn’t actually stop him from doing it. When he starts to see pies, his thoughts change. He isn’t fully aware of what he is doing because “boredom [makes him] sin. At the German Market, [he stands] before a rack of pies, [his] sweet tooth [gleams] and the juice of guilt [wets] his underarms;….. [he] nearly [weeps] trying to decide which to steal, and [forgets] the flowery dust priests give off, the [shadows] of angels and the proximity of God howling in the pluming underneath the house” (2). His internal conflict here is that he starts to lose it because he doesn’t know what to do. He already knows about how stealing is wrong, yet he still does it. It sounds hypocritical because he would commit a sin here instead of listening to his religious thoughts. It is always the best for a person to listen to their good thoughts because there won’t be a horrible outcome in the end.

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Soto also learns about getting caught when he encounters Cross-Eyed Johnny. When Johnny asks for the pie, Gary tells him to get away. Johnny watches Gary, and whispers that “[his] hands are dirty” (2). Gary has been caught red-handed stealing the pie, and it creates guilt inside of Gary. Even though he thought nobody would figure out that he stole the pie, he doesn’t even realize what could happen. People could feel like they are invincible when nobody is around, but that doesn’t cause one to not feel any pain later on. The pie tin starts to glare at him, and then “a car [honks], and the driver knew. Mrs. Hancock [stands] on her lawn, hands on her hip, and she know. [His] mom, peeling a mountain of potatoes at the Redi-Spud factory, knew” (7). Gary is in big trouble because he never truly listened to anyone. Even looking at the pie tin makes him Gary feel bad because he stole it, and it makes him think about why he did it. If someone gets caught by a bunch of people, and any objects associated with the sin are close by, it won’t look good for that person since their conscience is revealed to the public.

Soto’s personality drastically changes in the end, and he finally figures out what sin really is. It starts out with him drinking the water, and how “water [fills him] up more than the pie” (8). Water represents purity, and the pie represents his sin. This thought helps ease the fact that he sinned because there is more purity than sin in his body even though he didn’t really pay for the sin. It can be hard for people to live with a bad thought, and sometimes a better thought can help replace the bad one. He also sees the pie tin glaring at him again, and then finds out “sin is what you took and didn’t give back” (8). Gary has finally learned his lesson about sinning after everything he has been through. If people take something intentionally, but don’t give it back, it is sinning because nothing is returned to anyone. The person committing the sin will eventually feel worse than the other people being affected by it because they may not realize how the other person feels about it.

Soto’s description about guilt and stealing the pie really showed how he felt while doing these actions. It may have sounded tempting, but it later caught up to him due to him being caught by other people. If he listened to himself about stealing in the first place, none of this would have even happened. The good thing is that he learned from his mistake, and he knows about not doing it again. Sometimes, it could be a good thing to talk about so one can share the story with others, and the same mistake doesn’t happen to other people.

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