The Glass of Milk

by Manuel Rojas

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The Milk Bar Woman
The cafe attendant is soft-spoken and gentle. She takes the youth's order and offers him a second helping after he finishes the first. She understands his need for food and his reluctance to accept charity. When the lad weeps, she comforts him. After he stops weeping he looks to her, but she is looking away. She does not ask for payment for the food.

The Old Sailor
He is a pipe-smoking seaman who offers a bundle of food to the lad. The thin youth refuses his offer. The sailor smiles when a second fellow accepts his offer without saying thanks.

The Thin Youth
This young fellow is an itinerant laborer on the waterfront who is in constant search of work. He is very hungry because he has not eaten in several days, but his pride keeps him from accepting handouts from others. When he asks the foreman for his daily wages, he is refused payment until the job is completed. He refuses to take a loan from the foreman. He wants to meet his own needs without accepting charity from others.

But his hunger pushes him to the brink of despair, and he decides to "eat anywhere, without paying, even if they shamed him, beat him, sent him to jail." He is willing to accept shame and disgrace for a meal.

He accepts food and comfort from the milk bar woman. He does not offer to pay for the food. He plans to repay her, but by the time he reaches the wharf, he has forgotten this.

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