Water by the Spoonful


Quiara Alegría Hughes

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Water by the Spoonful: Scene Four Summary & Analysis

On the internet forum, a new member named Fountainhead is trying to introduce himself. He begins typing a self-conscious introduction, but deletes it.  Instead, he proceeds to produce a long essay about his background as a medal-winning athlete, a wealthy entrepreneur with a Porsche, a beautiful wife, and several brilliant children. He says that he has a mild problem with crack, which he insists is only psychological and which he only takes in small, controlled doses. Fountainhead says he has come to the experts for their advice and tips on staying clean—he is their new student. Most importantly, his wife can never find out, which is why he is on an internet chat room rather than seeing a therapist or an accountability group.
Fountainhead is immediately characterized as an egotistical fool and his long, bravado-infused monologue contrasts starkly with the painful honesty of the forum members and their striving to simply be normal people. Mired in the midst of Fountainhead’s ego is his refusal to see his crack addiction for what it is, instead minimizing it as merely a bad habit. Fountainhead’s ego and dishonesty demonstrate the common human habit of downplaying one’s struggles, and this will be an obstacle to his recovery.
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Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders ruthlessly mock and ridicule Fountainhead’s introduction for its arrogance and half-hearted admission of using crack buried amongst his list of personal accomplishments. Haikumom tries to hold the other two members back and censor their frequent. She offers a welcome and explains that she has lost her family to crack (as has Chutes&Ladders) but has been clean for six years. Fountainhead remains silent while Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders continue to mock him, saying that they will respect crack and its overwhelming power, but not someone who acts so egotistical or who has hardly suffered. Chutes&Ladders warns Fountainhead that he will never survive his addiction unless he learns how to set aside his own ego. Fountainhead logs off, but Haikumom tells him to email her if he would like to try starting again.
Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders’ disdain for Fountainhead and his ego demonstrate the wide chasm between their own characters and his. The clash between a wealthy, arrogant businessman and the simple, even lowly members of the addiction forum once again suggest Coltrane’s idea of dissonance. However, despite their ruthless attack on Fountainhead, Chutes&Ladders makes a critical point about addiction and recovery: if Fountainhead still holds onto his pride and has not suffered enough, there is no chance he will have the strength to break his addiction. This suggests that humility and self-awareness are critical to recovery.
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