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A Fortune - Joy Monica T. Sakaguchi

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“A Fortune” is a short story written by Joy Monica T. Sakaguchi. The story is about the narrator, a youngish man who has been pick-pocketing his whole life. One day, he notices a young boy wandering around alone. The narrator recognizes him immediately because he had stolen a wallet from the boy’s father at the fish market an hour earlier. The narrator then walks over to the boy and takes him home with him and makes some food for him. For some unknown reason but most likely because of the incident he witnessed at the market, the narrator feels an urge to help the boy cheer up. The kid decides to sleep over at the man’s house and the next morning the man accompanies the kid back to his neighbourhood. The short story ends with the kid not wanting to go home and the narrator dumps the stolen wallet in the garbage because he believes that the father he stole it from did not deserve to have the wallet returned.

The narrator of the story is the only child of a “stinking, rotting, loud-of-a-man” (line 20) father and an “ugly lady who wears a black curly wig and cries constantly” (line 16) who is his mother. The family hardly had any money and lived in a trailer park. The father already taught the narrator how to pick pockets when he was only five years old. Many years later when the narrator’s dad had abandoned him, pick pocketing still has an impact on his life. He now has a job and works every day in the week except Sundays, where he has a day to rest. The narrator is not religious. His Uncle Barney used to come around dressed up like Santa, only to lose his beard and ask for at stiff drink. That taught him to be realistic and only to believe in what you can see for yourself.

The narrator often goes to a cheap Chinese restaurant where he collects fortune cookies containing small fortune notes inside them. The notes in the cookies have great significance for him and in line 38, he declares: “I love those stupid fortune cookies.” The fortune notes are entertaining even if the fortune usually does not come true. But he loves them because when they tell him things like “love and happiness will be yours in abundance”, it is something he has never heard before; it is something he hopes will come true in the future. These fortune notes tell him everything he has longed to hear first hand from his parents; the loving and encouraging things they never said to him.

The story is written in the first-person point of view. This gives the reader a deep insight in the state of mind of the narrator, but it also hides the thoughts of the boy. It is very subjective, and we can’t always trust that our narrator in the telling the true story. Joy Monica uses in-formal language for the main character. For instance in line 81: “I heard myself talking, and I swear I sounded like a stinking kidnapper”. The style of the story is loose, and this gives the reader an impression of a very careless person, who lives

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