What does Beinvenido Santos ask in “Scent of Apples”?

Bienvenido Santos is asked by Celestino Fabia in “Scent of Apples” if the women back home in the Philippines are the same as they were twenty years ago. Santos replies that the women have indeed changed, but only on the outside. Inside, they’re still the same.

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In “Scent of Apples,” Celestino Fabia is a poor farmer who works just outside Kalamazoo. During a lecture that Bienvenido Santos is delivering to an audience largely consisting of college-aged women, Fabia asks him if the women back home in the Philippines have changed. Like Santos, Fabia is a Filipino...

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In “Scent of Apples,” Celestino Fabia is a poor farmer who works just outside Kalamazoo. During a lecture that Bienvenido Santos is delivering to an audience largely consisting of college-aged women, Fabia asks him if the women back home in the Philippines have changed. Like Santos, Fabia is a Filipino expat and is understandably interested to know what changes have taken place back in the old country since he left.

Santos replies that Filipino women have indeed changed, but only on the outside. On the inside, where it really matters, they haven’t changed at all. Before giving his answer, Santos thinks very carefully about what to say. On the one hand, he doesn’t want to give Fabia a misleading impression. On the other hand, however, he doesn’t want to disillusion the expat farmer; he doesn’t want to paint too negative a picture of their common homeland.

Fabia appears satisfied by Santos’s diplomatic response. This is perhaps because, deep down, he wants to believe that what Santos is saying is true. Such hope is derived from his own negative experiences of being driven from his home country by an authoritarian patriarch who was supported in his actions by Fabia’s mother and sisters.

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