What is the theme and point of view in "The Scent of Apples"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of the short story, "The Scent of Apples" is about how first generation immigrants experience a sense of loss and seek connection to their past life even if they had created a life for them in the new world.  The story revolves around Santos and a Filipino farmer from Indiana called Celestino Fabia.  Santos tells the story from his point of view.  The plot is fairly direct.  Santos is delivering a lecture on life in the Philippines when Fabia, excited by the notion of someone, anyone from his native Philippines speaking, attends the lecture and interrupts his speaking about how Filipino women have changed from 20 years ago the present time.  The two men strike up a conversation and Fabia invites Santos to his farm for dinner the next day.  Santos meets his family, eats dinner, experiences "the scent of apples" that comes from his orchard and the kitchen.  The ending of the story emerges when Santos is dropped off at his hotel and Fabia states that this will be the last time they see one another.  The characters of the story are Fabia, an immigrant from the Philippines who has lived in a farm in the midwest for the last 20 or so years.  His wife, Ruth, who is devoted to her husband, as her name suggests.  Their son, and Santos.  The main idea of the story is to stress that the immigrant experience, particularly the Filipino one, is a unique experience within the lexicon of American thought.  It stresses and explains different elements which range from isolation, alienation, joy, happiness, reverie, and recollection.  To be an immigrant is to live amongst "the scent of apples," something not as present in the homeland, yet strangely reminding of it.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view in "The Scent of Apples" is that of a Filipino immigrant to the United States who feels trapped between cultures and countries. When lecturing about his country in Michigan during World War II, he is hard pressed to know how to summarize the differences between his culture and American culture.  He meets a fellow Filipino named Celestino Fabia and briefly enjoys a short period of warmth and connection with Fabia's American-born wife and son. However, the narrator then returns to the coldness of the Michigan night, and he again feels a sense of isolation. 

The theme of the story is the loss and isolation that many immigrants can feel. They can be plagued by a continual sense of missing their home country, but they may know that they cannot return, at least not at any point soon. At the same time, elements of the new culture, such as the scent of apples that one can only smell in America, are strange and not necessarily welcoming or familiar. 

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