The Coffee Table

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The Bread of Salt
    N.V.M. Gonzalez

Written in a first person point-of-view, The Bread of Salt is about a fourteen year-old boy who grows up, realizing that not all dreams or loves in life can possibly come true. Perhaps the moral of the story, or an insight that one can conclude from Gonzalez’s story is this: while it is alright to dream, a person should still at least weigh the circumstances and the possibilities set upon the foundation of that dream. In other words, reality should be in constant check, whether a person is just fantasizing improbable future events or not. Factors affecting the improbability of the dream are the circumstances itself set around the environment of the dreamer. Okay, sounding like Freud here for a sec. ヘ(゚∀゚ヘ) Getting back to the Bread of Salt, the reader witnesses the main character relaying events of the past when he was fourteen years old. During that time, he realized that his dream to be a well-renowned musician and his dream to be with a girl named Aida were two things that had been dreamt up in fancy. First, his dream to be a musician – a violinist, to be particular – were flushed down the drain when his aunt had asked him one day why he wanted to be a musician when in fact, “at parties, musicians always eat last.” The main character knew how harsh his aunt could be, and it showed when he admitted that he got a little hurt by her statement. Next, his many fanciful imaginations of being with Aida shows how much infatuated he is with her. For instance, the main character thought of buying her a brooch. In my own opinion, the symbol of both the act of giving a beloved a piece of jewelry, and the jewelry itself is something done by those whose relationships are strong and have had experiences to serve as its foundation – the item, being a symbol of appreciation or token of thanks. Hence, the main character thinking of giving Aida a brooch is a scenario that proved that he thought of himself too much towards a person whom, as the details imply in the story, is someone who he is not very close with.

The act of the main character eating the bread of salt, or the pan de sal, in the beginning of the story signifies the importance of the image, though it can be read that it is not the focus of the whole context. Rather, the pan de sal serves as the image that represents the main character’s “broken dreams” – his realizations towards the impracticality of his future career as a violinist, as pointed out by his aunt; and the absurdity of his many romantic assumptions with a girl he barely knows. At the end of the story, through the act of again eating pan de sal, the main character accepts the things that may not be.