Harris uses this metaphor “the dandelions are spreading their bitter leaves… soon they will be in bloom,” to represent the gypsies and how their presence will cause chaos in Reynaud’s town. I find Harris’s metaphor interesting because it does truly relate to the gypsies. In our current society, dandelions are branded as a leaching weed. It is often exterminated from gardens because it robs other plants and grasses’ nutrient and water and are eyesores. What many people do not know is that, dandelions are beneficial weeds. They protect from pest and also provide minerals and nutrients unique to dandelions into the soil. Not only are they beneficial to the soil and other plants, dandelions can be eaten and are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
Reynaud views the gypsies as bad for his town because he believes gypsies are thieves and do harm to others. When in reality, the gypsies have done no harm, paid for all their expenses and would help introduce new, diverse skills and tools to the town. Much like what a dandelion does. A central theme of the book is tolerance, and this quote specifically points out Reynaud’s tolerance (or lack) of the gypsies.
The gypsies stick out like an eyesore among the townsfolks in Lanquet and are often view as foreigners, just like dandelions on a grass field. Harris describes the Tannes river as “swollen.” Swollen, defined by thedictionary.com, means “expanded by or as if by internal pressure.” The internal pressure that makes the town’s river, the river that is the essence and allows for existent for Lanquet, swollen, is the lack of tolerance of people with other religions and backgrounds. This stunts the town’s growth because the town narrow-minded and judgemental to new ideas. quote:
“Crinkly cellophane paper wraps it like a covering of ice. Running past and winding into the valley, a river of blue silk ribbon, upon which a cluster of houseboats sits quiet and unreflecting. And below, a procession of chocolate figures, cats, dogs, rabbits, some with raisin eyes, pink marzipan ears, tails made of licorice-whips, with sugar flowers between their teeth . . . And mice. On every available surface, mice. Running up the sides of the hill, nestling in corners, even on the riverboats. Pink and white sugar coconut mice, chocolate mice of all colors, variegated mice marbled through with truffle and maraschino cream, delicately tinted mice, sugar-dappled frosted mice. And standing above them, the Pied Piper resplendent in his red and yellow, a barley-sugar flute in one hand, his hat in the other” (Harris 104-105)
In this passage, Vianne is describing the new store front display she is creating. Harris uses the simile in “crinkly cellophane paper wraps it like a covering of ice” to aid to the overall imagery of the piece. Harris is extremely descriptive and uses sensory imagery by using words like, “crinkly cellophane,” “silk ribbon,” and when she describes the types of candy and chocolate used. Both the sensory imagery and simile makes the reader feel like they are there watching Vianne make the display and help the reader connect to the story.
I find it ironic how Vianne uses chocolate mice to represent people. Because, in the beginning of chapter 13, Reynauld says, “I poison the rats that infest the sacristy and gnaw at the vestments there… should i not also poison the pigeon that disrupts my service?” when describing to monpere about that troubles of the town. When Harris writes from Reynauld’s point of view, the gypsies are seen as rats, while when she writes from Vianne’s point of view, the gypsies are seen as mice. When comparing rats to mice, a rat automatically conjures up an image of something that will cause trouble while a mouse is a little innocent creature. This all leads back to the central theme of tolerance.
Vianne uses chocolate mice to represent the people of the town and specifically, “And mice… nestling in corners, even on the riverboats,” is the direct quote that shows that some of the chocolate mice she made represent the gypsies too. Vianne sees the gypsies as not only as humans but she understands the uniqueness of each human and benefits of diversity when she makes mice of different composition of chocolates in the quote, “chocolate mice of all colors.” While on the opposite end of the spectrum, Reynaud has exterminated the “rats” and plans on trying to do so again. Reynaud is not accepting of the gypsies and will not give them a chance to prove that the gypsy stereotype is false which proves his lack of tolerance.
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