The air within Celestina Fabia’s secluded home was perfumed with the foreign scent of apples. The immigrant had been living in Kalamazoo for more than 20 years when he met a speaker from his native land who had come to the US to lecture; he drove out to the city hear this man. The crowd’s questions during the open forum centered on Fabia’s home country. To this Fabia stands and asks if the women now were the same 20 years ago and the lecturer responds that they were. Thereafter Fabia invites the lecturer to dinner with his American wife, Ruth, and his son, Roger. The next day Fabia picks the speaker up from the hotel and drives him to a farm east of the city into a rugged road that led into an isolated farm. It held a crumbling and shanty home. Fabia reminisces about his time in the Philippines and the speaker has dinner with the hospitable family. As the dinner ends, so does the Fabia’s time with his only link back home. The lecturer bids goodbye and offers to pass on Fabia’s sentiments to his family in the Philippines, which Fabia politely declines saying that nobody would remember him anyway and lets the lecturer go.
Bienvenido Santos’s “The Scent of Apples” centers on the absence of the familiarity of home or the characteristics of what makes a place so, for example: for a Filipino Celestino Fabia there is abundance of apple trees, while for the American men who went out to war there is the absence of great icy winds and the promise of winter; additionally the way Santos describes the setting further exemplifies this nostalgia and isolation from home.
The absence of home is introduced by Santos’s description of the, which creates a somber tone by describing the memory their son who had gone away to war. He uses that setting, the boy being away for war, to establish exile or loneliness; additionally he adds the boy’s absence from the familiar icy winds, changing golden leaves, and the fragrance of apples to further isolate the parents from their son. This...
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