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2017/10/23 - 15:11

(SP:) A For Apple

by Dominique Mao

An apple may only cost only two dollars Hong Kong, but is it really that cheap? The ordinary apple is actually both common and special. Other than starting with the first alphabet A, and ironing in air, apple represents wisdom and knowledge. Also, it made a grand entrance into human life in Genesis, the first chapter of New Testaments from the Bible. Apples appear in short stories and poetry, because Christianity plays an important role in literature. However, Christianity and literature are two completely different topics, yet they are closely related. Why?

The close connection can only be explained by the fact that man is controlled by destiny, which is created by God. Literature is the thoughts of people who had lived through life and expressed what they had believed in life; these are truths in life. The Bible, the center of Christianity is a book of destiny, especially in the Old Testament, Jesus' whole life is displayed before the readers, which is known by God in advance. God knows when Jesus will die, how he will die, and who will betray Jesus. God knows every single thing, but Jesus still need to go through his thorny path in life, even though he is God's one and only son. Man is bounded by fate.

Apple symbolizes wisdom, because in the Bible, it is the fruit of the tree "that gives the knowledge of what is good and what is bad"1(Genesis 2:9), which Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat. God had said "You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives the knowledge of what is good and what is bad..."2(Genesis 2:16-17). Nevertheless, being tempted by the evil serpent, Adam and Eve eat the apple. After they consume the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve "[are] given understanding"3(Genesis 3:7), and are thrown from paradise, the Garden of Eden. Therefore, apple may also symbolize the beginning of an exile, or suffering. In Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis both symbolic meanings can be seen.

In Metamorphosis, when the main character Gregor Samsa is hit by an apple, thrown by his father Mr. Samsa, the collision brings forth this sudden realization within Gregor and his family, as told in the Bible, 'by the apple "Your eyes shall be opened"'4: their eyes are opened. Gregor can painfully see that his life has changed, he no longer holds the position as the son; he is not useful because he cannot earn money anymore, he is just a gigantic cockroach that is taking up space in the house. Realizing the same truth, the Samsa family sees that they cannot depend on their son anymore, they have to leave the warm house and go to work. To Gregor's father's dismay, earning money is similar to an exile. The family has depended on Gregor for a long time, treating him like a bank account, a tree with dollar bills as leaves, thus to leave the green house, paradise and be exposed to the harsh reality is worse than anything. Actually, Gregor has never been Gregor, he is "changing all along"5. However, the family members just fail to realize that Gregor has transformed from the son to the bank account, then they notice the change finally because an insect which does not resemble their son at all. Before, the Samsa family does not see the metamorphosis because Gregor's physical appearance remains the same, but now "they were forced to take notice"6.

The apple stays on Gregor's back, even after his death because "no one ventures to remove it"7. The remaining of the fruit illustrates how Gregor carries the truth, his new identity created by his family. The Samsas makes this injury and they do not want to take it away from Gregor, not even his loving sister Grete; they want him to taste the bitterness of their exile and suffer for it, to be guilty. Gregor knows that he had transformed into a giant cockroach and he cannot do anything for his family anymore, especially his sister , thus Gregor is in "incredible pain"8. This new identity is hurting him, but he cannot run away from it; his new position in the Samsa family is the truth; it will remain until the day he dies or when he miraculously becomes human again. Reality is cutting Gregor's heart into little pieces. As Gregor approaches death, the apple becomes a burden to him, because he realizes he cannot do anything for the family anymore. Before, his whole family depended on Gregor, but now, he relies on them, a family under the green-house, and he becomes a heavy load for all of them to carry. The family does not only see Gregor as a burden, they begin to see what Gregor really is: a giant insect with no income at all. That is also why they started removing furniture from his room, "they [are falling] farther and farther away from him"9. The further insight of family's realization brings out the ultimate ugliness of the metamorphosis, the Samsas will not even recognize him as the son, the brother anymore.

Not only in short stories, apple tree can also play a big role in comic. In "The Crow" the speaker stands in front of an apple tree while he is telling his friend in the graveyard about his theory of limitations in life. Under the tree of knowledge, the man ironically describes how men betray innocence after they learn. Both good and rotting apples can be found in the first scene, the first one on the tree, while the latter lie on the dirt. An apple grows and rots, as the fruit symbolizes both knowledge and result in this case, it illustrates that when a person gains knowledge, learning may result in negative consequences. As men learn, they know more; they tend to observe an object from several different point of views. In "The Crow", if the speaker does not have knowledge of a poor man's life, spending one dollar on the bus to go to his girlfriend's house simply means paying the fare. However, with knowledge, spending money to go visit his girlfriend means not giving the "homeless man on the street"10. Similarly, in Kafka's Metamorphosis, after the apple is thrown, it sticks onto Gregor's back and rots, the decaying fruit implies how the knowledge of his new life and identity also leads Gregor to the ugliness of his situation. The giant cockroach understands a reality which he does not want to face: his family wants him out of the house.

An apple tree grows with the care of its owner who waters and suns it day by day. Similarly, knowledge accumulates, it grows by man learning bits and bits everyday. The fruit is the result of years of learning, the complete knowledge within a person. Learning process is one of the most important purposes in life. Imagine a person as a water molecule travelling up an apple tree, and he chooses what to learn and which branch to travel up until he reaches the fruit, the result of his life. The water molecule decides what to see and what to think, it might end up being ignorant or realizing the truth of living. The fruit can be a good apple or a rotting apple: a meaningful life or a sinful, lowly life.

With different interpretations of apple from difference pieces of literature, knowledge can be viewed in different ways. Knowledge is not just the fruit of learning, what it brings forth should be viewed from different views. Wisdom enlightens a person, but takes away the innocence within a person, nothing will be observed under only one light again after a person is stored by a full eighteen years of education. Although the length of education is less than eighteen years, but the difference is still there: half a year still makes a contrast. Similarly, while reading a piece of literature for the first time, it may just be a lovely story. However, after learning more about literature and seeing the insights of certain diction, or thinking for only five minutes, the fairy tale may tell more than one can expect.

The beginning of anything is also the result of a another cause. The beginning of Adam and Eve's exile is the result of the consuming of the fruit of "the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad"11(Genesis 2:16-17). Therefore, apple not only means the beginning, it also represents the consequences. Nevertheless, outcomes are always illustrated by fruits, there are fruits of sins and fruits of revenge. William Blake is a Christian who disagrees with the Christian beliefs. Jesus asks his disciples and those who believe in him to love their enemies, but Blake writes about his revenge towards his enemy. He cannot grow to love his enemy, alternately, his woe grows like an apple tree. In Blake's "A Poison Tree", the apple does not represent the fruit of wisdom, it is a fruit of revenge. In the poem, the speaker's hatred grows, like an apple tree, by watering and sunning it, a bright attractive apple is grown, and it is the fruit of anger and revenge towards the speaker's foe. To be angry with an enemy is much easier than to love . Therefore, the speaker water his tree with "fears"12 (l.5) because to plant anger and make it grow is not the right way of living in God's eyes. An image of rotting apple can be found in this poem. Blake has already gained his knowledge of being a Christian and to forgive those who sinned against him, however, Blake takes one step further, he prefers growing his hatred.

Other than education, the beginning and the end, apple can also mean attraction. The outside of an apple is bright and red like lips; it is juicy and filled with knowledge, the element important to make a person to "be like God"13(Genesis 3:5) and it is the reason why the Serpent tempted Adam and Eve. This is how purity turns rotten; attraction turns innocence to guilt. The gaining of knowledge is supposed to be good, but with the Serpent's temptation and God's order, learning brings forth the exile of Adam and Eve. However, why does God not want his man and woman to eat the fruit? Does God want us to "stay stupid"14?

Personally, God wants man to stay innocent and happy, He does not want human to see the ugliness in the most beautiful. The fruit from "the tree that gives of what is good and what is bad"15 is not meant to be eaten, all is to remain pure. Nakedness illustrates innocence, at first Adam and Eve "[are] both naked, but they [are] not embarrassed"16(Genesis 2:25); all is natural and guiltless. However, after Adam and Eve consume the apple, they cover themselves with fig leaves. They are hiding their true-selves. Similarly, love is original, but it is always being decorated by love poems and songs. In Sir Philip Sidney's "Loving in Truth", the speaker's lover does not want love covered with artificial phrases, she wants her lover to "look in they heart, and write!"17 (l.14). Love plays an important role in life, but it cannot be explained by words, it is magical and untouchable, yet, lovers always try to prove their love by expressing them in words, which makes their love fake.

Other than apple, other elements from the Bible can also be found in many pieces of literature, such as the serpent in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and Lord God in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Serpent is the symbol of evil, as in the Bible it is the snake which tempted Adam and Eve to consume the apple, by proving that God is lying by saying "God said that, because he knows that when you eat it you will be like God and know what if good and what is bad,"18 (Genesis 3:5) Lord God has the most power no matter in what spheres, and those who are against Him are all thrown into hell. In Paradise Lost, Satan, who refuses to bow down before God stays in the burning underground, and becomes King of Hell.

In Heart of Darkness, both Kurtz and Marlow have to travel up a river to go into the heart of Congo, the heart of darkness. In literature, travelling through wilderness or jungle usually means a trip to one's inner self, a discovery of the true-self: a person usually changes after the journey. Also, when a person is placed in the most primitive situation, when there is only man and nature, man would adapt their most original personality and act uncivilized: to kill.

In the novel, Marlow, referring the river as a snake, says "The snake [charms] me"19 . However, does the "snake" really "charm" Marlow? Maybe he actually is being tricked, as the "snake tricked [Eve] into eating"20(Genesis 3:13) the apple. Since Marlow is charmed by the river, a mystical shade is added on the river, illustrating the evil within the river, that anything can happen there. The water not only attracts Marlow, it actually lures him deep inside it, even when he is only a child. The same river takes Kurtz away from civilization, but at the same time, it takes civilization out of Kurtz. He becomes a King in the jungle, of the Natives by killing and threatening them, setting corpse' head "to sleep at the top of [the] pole"21. Kurtz, who is an educated man, actually rules his citizens by blood and violence instead of regulations and punishments, which are used in his home, London. Another victim of this river is Fresleven, who "was the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs."22 . Nevertheless, after he travels up the river, this creature "[whacks an] old nigger mercilessly"23. Fresleven, who was gentle, actually murdered a person; he beat an old man to death on the spot. Although killing shows the vanishing of civilization, it is the most basic way to survive in life. After travelling up the river, as if education is being taken from both Kurtz and Fresleven, they are forced to live the most primitive life. This is how the river, the serpent takes the most important part of man away; it took away the humanity, while in the Bible, the serpent causes the tumbling of Adam and Eve from paradise. Serpent means to be pure evil.

As Christianity elements are seen often, different interpretations can be witnessed and examined. Objects that people see everyday are not as common as they look, and all are connected to each other. When a person looks at a stone, with a moment of epiphany, sudden truths may slip into their minds. A stone is not merely a stone; an apple is not just an apple. Education causes all kinds of realization, and thus a person may see wisdom, attraction instead of an apple: only a further step is needed to be taken after simply consuming the fruit to know all truths.

Although the gaining of insight takes away the innocence man possesses when he is young and makes us notice that there is nothing perfect on earth, knowledge lets us see the truth and see all incidents in different perspectives, to think and find the inner meaning for their own. Every man has a heart of darkness, a little corner of their own inside them, and their deepest, darkness thoughts are kept in there, no matter good or evil. Every man has his own thoughts, there are no identical thoughts on earth: they are similar to synonyms to a word, no matter what, there are always slight differences between them. In the Bible, consuming the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden may be the original sin, but now, it is not; if man does not gain wisdom of their own, think and find their own insight, their life will be a tree without any apples, which is meaningless. The story of that particular man will be like a diary without any entries.

References

Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, Old Testament, P.5; American Bible Society, 1976
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, Old Testament, P.5; American Bible Society, 1976
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, Old Testament, P.6; American Bible Society, 1976
Apple,
My Take on Metamorphosis,
My Take on Metamorphosis,
Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, Hand out, P. 803
Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, Hand out, P. 802
My Take on Metamorphosis,
"The Crow" Book Two
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, Old Testament, P.6; American Bible Society, 1976
William Blake, "A Poison Tree", line 5
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, Old Testament, P.6; American Bible Society, 1976
Apple,
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, Old Testament, P.5; American Bible Society, 1976
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, NewTestament, P.6; American Bible Society, 1976
Sir Philip Sidney, "Loving in Truth", line 14
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, NewTestament, P.6; American Bible Society, 1976
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, England, Penguin Group, 1995, P.22
Good News Bible Today’s English Version British Edition, NewTestament, P.6; American Bible Society, 1976
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, England, Penguin Group, 1995, P.94
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, England, Penguin Group, 1995, P.23
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, England, Penguin Group, 1995, P.23


Revision: 2011/01/08 - 00:18 - © Mauro Nervi




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