Why is the human race designed to loathe changes in life, when changes could lead to a better life? In Julia Kelk's short story "Sweet Cream" she describes a wedding from a lonely young Mexican girl's perspective.
The story is set in a hotel called "Hotel Central" in the Mexican winter wonderland. In the story we meet Jenny who is also the protagonist of the story. She is about 20 years old, and she is at a wedding reception for the cousin of her brother-in-law and his fiancÃÂ©e. After a few years of studying English in Canada, she has returned to her home in Mexico. The only other person we meet is Fernando who is also a wedding guest, an old man who has lived in the city where the story is set for many years. The story's narrative style is a 3rd person limited narrator and the reason why Julia Kelk has chosen this, is to let us observe and characterize Jenny with our own eyes but still know her feelings.
In this essay I will be focusing on Jenny and her relationship to Canada and Fernando. I will also take a look at the main theme and look at the symbolism.
Jenny has two relationships that we are introduced to. Canada, which she is referring to herself, and Fernando whom we can conclude as being her only friend. Many times in the text we hear about Canada, and we can by that infer she is missing Canada. The use of flashbacks makes us realize how much she had in Canada.
"She'd been filled with a deep sense of nostalgia ever since she'd returned." (Lines 111-112) This quote says that she misses everything about Canada.. We hear about Ben, who is a great ice skater in Canada and one of Jenny's best friends. We sense that she was in love with him. She felt home in Canada. People in Mexico look down upon her and that is probably because they cannot afford to go to Canada. The social level is shown here because better-educated groups would have been happy for her. In the social environment where this story is set, people hate her for being "better" than them. The social environment present is this story is very low and we see this for example on the wedding cake. The top of it is made out of cardboard which shows that it was too expensive to buy a whole cake. The only person Jenny can converse with is Fernando. Fernando is old and therefore he has a lot of life experience. He is her safe place and her risk-free-environment.
To be able to go for the things you want is one of the most important things in life. The story portrays the exact opposite: Jenny's lack of ability to follow what she actually wants. The absence of her independence is one of the main themes in the text. She is left in Mexico with the nostalgic memory of what she could have done and what could have happened.
[Fernando]:"It's best not to rush into these things" (Line 87). This quote shows that Fernando is misleading her into not following her dreams. She is trusting him which in this case is wrong because the moral of the story is to remember to go for the things you want, no matter how crazy or wrong it seems. In this story Jenny did not follow her dream and she is paying for it now with only the memory of Canada and Ben.
In this story symbolism is an essential part in understanding the meaning of the plot. We hear about the bride wearing white boots. Jenny wore white boots in Canada, which could symbolize freedom, free to do what you want in the world. Ice-skating is a new thing Jenny started in Canada, and the white could symbolize the beginning of a new life. But Jenny misses her opportunity to follow this new beginning, and she comes back to Mexico. Another thing worth mentioning - the white boots on the person in the stall is a symbol of the lack of freedom. The white also symbolizes white ice isolating her from the young life, and telling us about her empty life as a housewife in a kind of patriarchal society.
The wedding cake is made mostly out of cardboard with sweet cream on it. It shows that something might look different from what it actually is. And again this wedding seems happy from the outside but we as readers sense the kind of sadness at the wedding. We might have an arranged marriage, but we cannot know.
The story shows Jenny's life and how she did wrong. She misses the life she could have had if she had followed her dream. Her dream is in Canada and his name is Ben. The story describes Jenny's empty, depressed life in Mexico and reminds her how her life could have been.
To follow your dream no matter where it takes you will always be the right thing, and that is what Julia Kelk in this story shows us. She tells us to follow what we feel is right and not to be afraid of changes. . If you follow your heart it can never go wrong. Live your life as you intend it to be. Change is for the better.
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