She's Obviously Oblivious

723 Words3 Pages
In a coastal town frequented by tourists, we find the characters of Simon Collings’ story, “Do You Speak English?” in a derelict area. It is very important that the setting takes place in an area such as this to show the audience the cultural and monetary divide between the characters. Collings shows the division between the characters which are the wealthy tourists and the poverty-stricken boy as they interact with one another as told by a local onlooker named Manuel. Although Manuel bridged the language gap between the boy and the woman tourist, the social and cultural divide between the three isn’t so easily accomplished. The setting element used by Collings helps point out the gulf between the classes and how this rift is not able to be breached. Collings gives the reader great detail about the squalor of the area when describing “the floating garbage and the stream of brown, stinking waste which trickled from a pipe in the wall below” and it is within this setting that the tourists set foot in to provide the conflict within the story. As the tourists continue to walk along the quay, the female tourist is oblivious to her surroundings as she is more concerned with the plight of the fish she sees in the road “[thrashing] helplessly in the gutter…gasping its last breaths” than the “barefoot and grubby” boy who was “marked with insect bites” fishing. While the setting is significant to the story, one must also look at the plot or storyline to understand why the characters act as they do. The female tourist is quite adamant about the safety of the dying fish and feels it should be placed back in the river for its survival. She gets no response from the fishing boy and turns to Manuel for his assistance. She looks upon Manu... ... middle of paper ... ...h. A blind eye has been turned to the truly needy even though help was given. Ten times the amount of the fish’s worth was paid, but there was really no resolution for anyone. The social and cultural gap was too wide to be bridged by neither the wealthy tourists nor Manuel, who could have explained the boy’s background making the wealthy sympathetic to his real needs. In Manuel’s hesitation, he too remains unsure of bridging the social gap. In the end everyone went about their daily lives with no consideration for one another. The wealthy may be blinded by their life of entitlements and unable to truly see those in need; however, those in need may want to reconsider their pride regarding their dire circumstances as they reveal them to others that bridge can be built to cross this social and cultural divide. Works Cited Collings, Simon. "Do You Speak English?".
Open Document