Poem Analysis Essay About Love

Love is present in a relationship when individuals overcome their nerves and have the will to make sacrifices for one another. In Gary Soto’s poem, “Oranges,” the speaker describes his first date with a girl which leads them to the candy section of their local drugstore. The young boy possesses two oranges that symbolize comfort and warmth, along with a nickel in hopes of his date selecting a candy within his budget. Surprisingly, the girl chooses the candy that costs a dime, which prompts the boy to sacrifice his own orange in order to pay the difference. Overall, the gist of the poem comes down to the idea that when a sacrifice is being done for someone an individual loves, it is not considered a sacrifice.

First and foremost, the poem revolves around love. Gary Soto places his characters in the “gray of December,” and allows them to walk down streets of “newly planted trees.” The frigid weather wasn’t an obstacle that stands in the way of this first date, and the new trees serve as a symbol of emerging love between the young boy and his date. The two oranges in the boy’s pocket offset the dreary setting and symbolize the warmth in the presence of love. The boy connects the girl with the luminosity within love in many different ways. In lines 13-14 and 28, the speaker directly affixes brightness with the girl. This brightness is an ongoing representation of love, from the oranges to the light in her eyes.

Second, “Oranges,” is a poem that values hope and sympathy. In lines 34 to 42 of the poem, the boy shows signs of anxiety commandeering his body when he realizes that he is unable to afford the girl’s candy of choice. Yet he “quietly” sets the orange onto the counter in hopes of the saleslady accepting his payment and allows him to continue the date. The saleslady is overcome with sympathy when she comes to the realization that it is her decision to either embarrass the young boy and ruin the date or to humbly accept the payment and let the date proceed. The shower of sympathy that the saleslady has on the young boy results in the possibility of their love to grow.

Lastly, Gary Soto focuses on the aspect of the sacrifices that are made in order to translate messages. In the poem, the boy places focus on the oranges from the beginning. With this information, a reasonable conclusion can be made that the oranges hold great importance to the boy and to the poem’s symbolism. When the boy fell short of money, he paid using one of the two oranges that theoretically he carries to eat later on. Not only does the boy sacrifice his orange, but the saleslady loses her profit in order to help nurture love. A powerful message is emitting from this small sacrifice, and that being that in order to have love, sacrifice is needed. However, the poem also sends signals that poverty has something to do with why he only has a nickel and two oranges, thus providing even more importance to the oranges themselves. Notice that the poet did not embed a grandiose gesture to convey this message, further supporting that any sacrifice can be made for someone which truly captures an individual’s heart.

In conclusion, Gary Soto assembles a variety of different themes and messages to create a poem which depicts a real life situation. Up until the end, the oranges hold great importance and have a close relationship with brightness, which is linked to love. With the will to make sacrifices along with the sympathy of others, love has room to flourish.


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