What does the scent of apples mean in Bienvenido Santos's story "Scent of Apples"?
The scent of apples in Santos's short story symbolizes the nostalgia that people who are far away from home feel for their homes. At the beginning of the story, Santos writes that the parents of the American soldiers who are fighting far from home wonder, "where could he be now this month when leaves were turning into gold and the fragrance of gathered apples was in the wind?" The smell of apples makes the parents wish for their sons, as apples are an iconic American smell.
Fabia, who is from the Philippines, owns an apple orchard, but, as the narrator states, there is "no such thing in our own country." The house Fabia lives in with his wife Ruth and son Roger also smells like apples, and their back room is filled with them. Even though Fabia has apples in abundance, a kind wife, and a handsome son, the apples are a reminder he is far from home. When the narrator says he hopes he can visit Fabia's town in the Philippines one day soon, Fabia says no one would remember him there now. The smell of apples reminds Fabia that he is in the United States and can't return to his native country, and the smell is therefore a symbol of longing and nostalgia for his homeland.
The scent of apples in the story The Scent of Apples refers to the low paying type of jobs that Filipinos had to take when they came to America. Picking fruit was one type of job, therefore, the literal scent of apples indicates the profession of the worker who spends all his time in the orchard picking apples.
"The first wave of Filipino immigration to the United States occurred between 1906 and 1934, when Filipinos were recruited to California as agricultural workers."
"Filipino Americans have at all periods faced discrimination because of their national origins. Many have been confined to low-status, low-income jobs."
The scent of apples is possibly symbolic of the deep longing of the narrator for his homeland, the Philippines. When apples and their scents are mentioned in the story, a general feeling of sadness and homesickness is apparent.
In one instance, the narrator asks if the trees standing far away are apple trees. Although he is often talking about apples, it seems that apples are a metaphor for home and the past.