Water by the Spoonful

by

Quiara Alegría Hughes

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Water by the Spoonful: Scene Twelve Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Orangutan lies asleep on the train platform in Sapporo. At Odessa’s house, Yaz and Elliot yell for her outside her locked door. When she does not answer, Elliot kicks the door in and they find her passed out on the floor, apparently having overdosed. They begin slapping her and yelling at her as they call an ambulance. Elliot feels a mix of pain, anger, and fear. At the emergency operator’s instructions, they lift Odessa onto the couch, but as they do so, Odessa separates from her physical self in an out-of-body experience and stands to the side, watching them. Odessa briefly monologues about about being between flights, and recalls the single time she has been to the airport, when her father flew from Puerto Rico to meet her for the first time. His flight was late, and as she waited for him by the baggage claim, she watched one lone suitcase do circles around the carousel over and over again, “abandoned.”
The simultaneous occurrences of Orangutan lying on the train platform (having let her train—and thus her attempt at living a real life—pass by) and Odessa lying unresponsive on the floor are a nod to the parallel between these two characters’ story arcs. In the same way that Orangutan failed to act and let her opportunity to meet her mother pass, Odessa relapsed, throwing away her sobriety or any chance she had to participate in Elliot’s life or Ginny’s death. Notably, however, Odessa’s failings as an adult seem rooted in her own abandonment and broken relationship with her father, again demonstrating the generational impacts of broken relationships within a family.
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Yaz calls her own mom, since she will likely be faster than the ambulance, and Elliot grabs the phone and tells her that she needs to hurry and get here before he walks away and leaves Odessa to die on the couch. Yaz tells Elliot he can leave if he needs to, she understands, but Elliot insists that he just needs her to let him be angry, and he goes to another room and finds something to shatter in his anger.
When Elliot considers waking away from everything, Yaz gives him permission, knowing that she will stay to take care of things. This foreshadows their decisions at the end of the play when Yaz, who has already left the barrio and had her freedom, decides to return to take care of her family and “hold down the fort.” Elliot, however, decides that he ultimately needs to leave in order to escape and find his freedom elsewhere.
Themes
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Related Quotes
In Sapporo, a policeman shines a bright light at Orangutan lying on the floor and tells her she cannot sleep there and that she must leave. Orangutan complies. In Odessa’s house, as Yaz is sitting with her body, that same beaming light shines down from above, although only she can see it, like a vision of some sort. Yaz is overcome with emotion and tells Odessa that she is beautiful, good, and free to leave if she must. The light disappears as the ambulance arrives, and Yaz tells a confused Elliot that he must forgive his mom.
Narratively, Yaz’s brief vision seems odd, since Odessa does not leave, and Elliot does not truly forgive her within the confines of the play. However, it should be noted that Water by the Spoonful is only the second piece of a three-part series, so the entirety of Elliot or Yaz’s development is not fully seen.
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