When Bridie and Sheila are prisoners in the Japanese camps during World War II, they obtain a piece of caramel that they suck on for one minute each week. This small piece of candy symbolizes the human capacity to eke out joy in even the most devastating environments. Bridie and Sheila are committed to making this small semblance of joy last as long as possible—because they refuse to eat the entire piece of candy, and instead create a schedule in which to savor it, the caramel itself also becomes an expression of their willpower. Indeed, the two women know that they must be diligent in making the caramel last because it’s one of their only forms of joy in the midst of a grave situation, and though it’s a small and fleeting kind of happiness, they understand that they’re in no position to ignore any manifestation of pleasure.
The Caramel Quotes in The Shoe-Horn Sonata
BRIDIE: Don’t laugh. It was important. Caramel was our only luxury. Sheila sold her brooch to buy some—from a native who used to smuggle it. Every week—on Sunday night—we’d pop that caramel into our mouths—for one minute each—one minute of bliss—then we’d store it away till the next week.
M. VOICE: You were never tempted to eat it all?
BRIDIE: No. We were very strict about that. It had to last till the end of the war.