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Monday, May 17, 2010

THE FRUITCAKE SPECIAL

THE WRITER
Frank Brennan hails from the North West of England and is a graduate of the University of Wales. He was an actor and writer in a theatre group for schools and has taught English and Drama in secondary schools both in the UK and in Singapore. He has experienced editing books of short stories and plays. He has published original short stories and plays and written literature guide books for secondary students. Currently, he is working on a new collection of short stories. His interests include music, especially jazz and roots music, and history.


THE SYNOPSIS
The story is about a young lady, Anna, who works as a chemist in Amos Cosmetics factory in New Jersey. She tries different concoctions to create the best perfume. One day, she accidentally discovers a perfume that can charm men and make them fall in love with her. In addition to using “the usual mix of flowers and things”, she decides to throw in a piece of fruitcake into the mixture. The mixture produces a perfume which smells pleasant. Anna dabs a little of the perfume on the back of her hands and keeps the rest in her handbag. She does not think too much of it as she knows that she has to make perfumes in a proper way. However, she later discovers Mr. Amos, her boss, is suddenly attracted to her. He even invites her for dinner and she accepts it.

That night, she uses her usual perfume called Intrigue for her dinner date. Mr. Amos behaves strangely when he comes to pick her up at her home. Instead of the friendly and flirty tone in the office, he seems uninterested. He tries to end the dinner quickly and tells her that it is a reward for her hard work at the factory. Anna is puzzled at the change in his reaction. She thinks it has something to do with the perfume she is wearing. She excuses herself to go to the restroom and applies a generous dab of the new perfume she has concocted. The perfume has the same effects on a waiter, who also declares his love for her. Upon returning to her table, she discovers Mr. Amos is once again besotted by her. Anna realises now that the perfume is responsible for his strange behaviour. When she returns to the table, she finds Mr. Amos with Sabina, a beautiful and young model. All of a sudden, Mr. Amos declares his love for Anna and the waiter too starts singing to her. Soon, a fight starts between Sabina, Mr. Amos, the waiter. Several waiters try to calm things down. Anna decides to leave the restaurant immediately and returns home.

The next day, she takes leave and investigates the fruitcake. Her conversation with Aunt Mimi reveals that Aunt Mimi actually buys the fruitcake from a strange old lady who uses a secret ingredient. Unfortunately, it is impossible to find the old woman as she has passed away recently. Two days later, Anna returns to work. She meets Sabina with Mr. Amos in his office and Sabina insults her. In anger, Anna splashes the perfume on Sabina. She then resigns from the company and finds a new job in the factory that produces Intrigue. Sometime later, Armstrong, the pizza boy who now owns the company, confesses his love for Anna.

ELEMENTS
Setting

· Amos Cosmetic factory in New Jersey, USA
Anna works as a chemist designing new perfumes here. When she makes a new perfume with a little piece of fruitcake as part of the ingredients, she attracts her rich and handsome boss, David Amos, who has little regard for ordinary people.

· Home
Lives with her mother who is worried she is still single.

· French restaurant
It is an expensive place for food and drinks. David Amos brought her here for their dinner date. Both David and the waiter try to win Anna’s love and fight over her.

· Aunt Mimi’s apartment
Aunt Mimi lives in a nice little apartment on the other side of town. She wants to help Anna find a suitable husband.

Theme

· Physical attraction/superficial love versus true love
David Amos has only been attracted to pretty young models in the past. However, after Anna wears the special perfume, he becomes physically attracted to Anna and thinks that he loves her. So does the waiter at the French restaurant who smells her perfume. Anna does not believe it because she knows that David Amos does not like plain girls like her.

In contrast, Armstrong who has fallen in love with Anna when he was only a pizza delivery man, withholds his declaration of love until he feels that he is worthy of her love. He only dares to proclaim his love for Anna after he has become successful owner of a pizza company. Anna realizes that he truly loves her and would be a suitable life partner for herself.

· Integrity/self-respect
Anna rejects both David Amos and the waiter as they are not genuinely concerned about her. She has integrity and has pride in her own worth. She resigned from her career at Amos Cosmetics because she did not like the way her employer, David Amos, belittled her , particularly in front of his snooty girlfriend, Sabina.
· Seeking the right life partner is fraught/filled with problems
Anna faces wrong suitors, fights and job resignation before finding her true love.

· The influence of the supernatural is not desirable
The special ingredient in the fruitcake that was mixed in the perfume did not bring happy consequences for Anna because she attracted the wrong type of men who were shallow and foolish. True love does not need supernatural aid.

· Fulfilling family obligations to marriage
Anna was under pressure from her mother and aunt to get married because they were afraid that she was too old (27 years) to find a suitable life partner.

Values

Can you suggest some moral values after reading the story?

Here are some moral values:
· We must not be blinded by physical attraction.
· Appreciate ourselves for who we are and not depend on the supernatural.
· Do not be deceived by flattery/ We should appreciate true/sincere love.
· We should respect the opinions of our elders.
· Hard work is the key to success.
· We must not compromise our dignity.

Literary Devices in the Story

Point of View
I like funny stories!This story is written from the first person point of view. The narrator is also the main character. The pronoun “I” is used. We see the events from Anna’s perspective. We can experience her thoughts and feelings.
Tone
The story is narrated in a humorous way.
Diction (the choice of words used in the story)
· Lighthearted/ humorous - …he smiled until I thought his face would break into two
· Casual – use of slang e.g. momma, guy
· use of clich├ęs (overused expressions) e.g. I’m crazy about you; You are so beautiful
· simple vocabulary; short dialogues; lots of exclamation marks (!); unfinished sentences (…); use of italics (darling) to show emphasis and unexpected surprise
· American – boss
Simile
The story has several interesting and funny similes e.g. he looked like a dog who had just found a bone; mouths wide open like a couple of fish, etc.
Stereotypes
– e.g. pretty young models; rich and handsome employer;
Slapstick comedy
e.g. ridiculous behavior of singing waiter; silly fights
Imagery
The fruitcake ingredient makes the sophisticated perfume smell like a glorious mix of all natural, delicious, inviting and warm smells (like fresh bread and flowers and sunshine all mixed together).

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