Essay on a Matter of Taste

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In the short story “A Matter of Taste” by Alex La Guma, several political issues are addressed. Race, socioeconomic status, education and experience, are all factors that are somehow brought up throughout this story. The thing that stands out the most, and really brings all of these factors together, is the idea that “more is left unsaid than said.”

More is left unsaid than said; what does the statement really mean? To begin with, this idea is the theme to the structure of a lot of fictional writing, including this story. A good author is one who doesn’t have to say or spell out what he wants the reader to know. With description and detail, one should be given the opportunity in reading a story to imagine and infer what happened. One should be able to paint a picture in his or head of what the author is describing, without the author stating exactly what he or she is talking about. A very simple example of this is determining the race of the characters in A Matter of Taste. Using context clues (kinky hair, dark oriental ovals, “china” boy), the reader can infer that Chinaboy is of some kind of Asian decent as well as colored and Whitey is Caucasian.

In relation to this story, more is definitely left unsaid than said. The role of poverty is one of the main examples of this. The most obvious clue that all of these men are poor is the description of their physical appearances, Whitey’s description being especially clear. Dark lines around his mouth, eyes, and neck, uncut and ragged hair, dirty and faded jeans, a torn leather coat and grimy hands tell the audience that he is living a pretty rough lifestyle. The men also start talking about food, particularly American food and how fancy it is on page 76. Chinaboy makes a few comments about how much food Americans and people in the “big caffies” eat, which leads the audience to believe that he doesn’t eat much food himself. This conversation between the three characters not only includes clues to the role of...
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