It has always been easy to judge other people before you know them – much easier than it is to open up to a complete stranger. Every day we judge other people by the way they look, and especially people with different backgrounds than ourselves. But isn’t it wrong to make first-hand impressions before you know the person? It might turn out that it is a nice person with a great personality hidden under a different appearance.
The short story Eating Sugar, written by Catherine Merriman,_ _describes the meeting between two different cultures; how their first-hand-impressions on each other are and how this impression develops over time.
The story takes place in Thailand in ...view middle of the document...
In a way it is like Suzanne is the parent and Alex and Eileen are the frightened children. She constantly has to calm down her parents, and convince them that nothing bad is going to happen:
“There had been a role reversal here. Suzanne, their brave twenty-one-year old daughter transformed this side of the world to a competent, patient, encou_raging parent. He and Eileen her anxious, fractious, dependent charges” (Page 3 lines 39-42)_
But it is probably only in Thailand Suzanne is “the parent”. We hear how Alex wants to protect his family, but he does not have the courage around the four unfamiliar Thai men:
“There were four of them, and only himself, with his wife and daughter” (Page 3 line 71-72)
Therefore it is necessary for Alex to have someone who can protect him. Actually we hear that it is Eileen’s anxiety that keeps his own fear away, because he constantly has to show a cool facade so they don’t both freak out.
Alex compares the whole incident in the forest with the one time he and Eileen had taken a LSD-tablet when they were young. Back then Eileen had a bad trip – she felt anxious and had eaten a lot of sugar (at that time there was a myth that sugar was meant to bring you out). Just like the pill, Thailand is an unknown area – a different culture, which you cannot imagine before you have experienced it yourselves. Alex thinks of Thailand as “The Land of Smiles”, but also as a land with pirates and bandits. But the big question her is; isn’t there bandits everywhere? You cannot assume that all people in an entire civilization are alike. There will always be good and bad people, but that does not mean that you can denounce the country and all the inhabitants as dangerous. Actually the story gives us the impression that there is no reason for Alex and Eileen to freak out. The Thai men seem to be friendly and obliging to the family. Suzanne is an English teacher in Thailand, and speaks with the one of the men who also speaks English. His name is Wirut, and it turns out that he is an English teacher too. Surprisingly his English is bad considering that he is an English teacher. Instead of saying “English” he says “Engyish”, but he still enjoys speaking English with Suzanne. In fact he asks her to speak English instead of Thai, and at the end of the story we can see that he is becoming better. Now he pronounces “English” as “Engleesh”, which is closer to the right pronouncing. But it does not come as any surprise that Wirut does not master English. We hear that he comes from a place where there is not many western to speak with. So English is not the language that he uses on an ordinary day – the mix of cultures is missing. But in this story we see how important it is for people from different countries to have the possibility...