The Shoe-Horn Sonata

by

John Misto

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The Caramel Symbol Icon

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

The The Shoe-Horn Sonata quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Caramel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Currency Press edition of The Shoe-Horn Sonata published in 1996.
Act One, Scene Seven Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Bridie (speaker), Rick (“M. Voice”) (speaker), Sheila
Related Symbols: The Caramel
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Shoe-Horn Sonata PDF

The Caramel Symbol Timeline in The Shoe-Horn Sonata

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Caramel appears in The Shoe-Horn Sonata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene Seven
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
...all of her possessions, including her shoe-horn, her tobacco tin, and her “half-share” of their caramel. “Your caramel?” Rick asks, clearly entertained. In response, Bridie tells him not to make fun,... (full context)
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
...their willpower, Rick asks if Bridie and Sheila were ever “tempted to eat” the entire caramel, but Bridie says they were determined to make the candy last until the war ended.... (full context)