Oranges as life metaphors?

oranges“The trouble with a book is that you never know what’s in it until it’s too late.” Mrs Winterson, adoptive mother of author Jeanette Winterson.

Fascinating. Isn’t that a perfect metaphor for real life? You just don’t know what you will experience or how it will turn out, you just hope for a good resolution and a happy ending.

To add spice, the sympathetic protagonist is you, yourself – and you MUST be sympathetic to your own cause, as you just can’t always get the loyal, supporting cast when you need them.

Of course, she meant that some books have contents distasteful to the reader (political, sexual, whatever…), as does real life. And so they should. If art reflects life, then it has to include some – shall we say – “challenging” stuff.

Many self-published books, in fact, explore quite challenging alternatives to accepted grammar and spelling. And punctuation.

Returning to Mrs Winterson and her breakthrough novel, “Oranges are not the only Fruit” (at last, some oranges), we can also consider that very fruit as another excellent metaphor for life (see, we did get there eventually).

English: A Swedish box of chocolates called &q...

Okay, for some time we have had Forrest Gump‘s metaphor,

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”

but here’s the case for Mrs Winterson’s books…

  1. Books are less fattening (except Cookery Books)
  2. Chocolates contain sugar, which sweetens the worst selection
  3. Chocolate selection disappointment is transitory – books go on for page after page after page…
  4. When I buy a book for my wife, it’s a gamble as we have different reading tastes, but when I buy chocolates for my wife, I make sure they include only the ones she likes (that’s a public service reminder about the imminence of St. Valentine’s Day)

And the case for oranges?

  1. Oranges are less fattening than chocolates
  2. The price extracted for experiencing an orange varies over time
  3. Oranges are sometimes sour, sometimes sweet, hence a better analogy for the vagaries of life
  4. You can get orange-flavored chocolates, but you can’t get chocolate-flavored oranges

I used to favor Merlin’s line from the movie, “Excalibur“:

Looking at the cake is like looking at the future, until you’ve tasted it what do you really know? And then, of course, it’s too late. [Enamoured Arthur takes a bite of Guinevere’s love-token cake] Too late!

But I am now a convert to the Wintersonism about books and not just because it’s shorter. After all, I am writing a series of novels and do I know what’s going to happen next? Nah, my characters are purposefully striding off in all kinds of directions. I never realized that my antagonist was so devious! I wonder, where does he get it from?

Incidentally, I just got back from a harrowing two-week trip to a region of the UK with no 3G signal, to be greeted by not one, but TWO notifications of Liebster Blog Award Nominations! More about this next time…

So, are chocolates, books or oranges the best metaphors for life? Additional nominations are welcomed.

8 comments on “Oranges as life metaphors?

  1. Intriguing title…I like oranges as a metaphor to life. Has anyone been able to find a word that rhymes with it? Orange I mean. Seedless oranges are my favorite, but like life, even the seedless orange will have a seed somewhere in it. There is no such thing as perfection. Mistakes are the surprises of life. A box of chocolates may contain a map to avoid the “yucky” ones, but then what do you do with them? Re-gift them, toss them, hide them, give them another try……lol.

    • My best offering as a rhyme is “door-hinge” – try penning a poem around fruit and carpentry! I agree, even the most seedless orange will have at least one hidden seed. Regarding perfection – I recently realized that the saying, “Nothing is perfect, only God”, is valid for atheists as well as for the religious.

      So now we have “yucky” chocolates, almost a contradiction in terms to a chocoholic. May I suggest buying a dog to hoover up disappointing selections?

      (Strange, no -one suggested “cherries, bowls of” as an alternative…)

  2. All three have their good points, but if I could choose only one, I would choose a book. My reasoning is that if you eat the chocolate, it is gone; if you eat the orange, it is gone, but a book you can read over and over again. I guess it all boils down to if you want a quick, satisfying life or one that can go on and on giving continuous pleasure. Plus, if you have an imagination like mine, you can rewrite the book any way you want it as many times as you want. Makes sense to me. 🙂

    • I guess that your ideal gift would be a cookery book with a recipe for orange-flavored chocolates? And a book with no last page, so you can devise a million alternative endings and hence a million different books?

  3. Books are the better metaphors for life, precisely because Mrs. Winterson is right. You have to put a lot into them before you know whether it was worth putting anything into them, but you can get so much more out of them than oranges or chocolates (and I’m an incurable chocoholic).

    I don’t quite know how you got from life metaphors to runaway characters, Andy, but I’m glad you brought up the topic. Now I know that I’m not the only one who has lost control of a character and been taken on a dark odyssey trying to catch him. I feel a little less odd now, though only a little. ;-\

    • I think I got there by way of Circe’s circumvention, a little known route used by rambling bloggers 😉

      I am detecting reports of runaway characters in various blogs and forums, so be reassured, “We are not alone”. I guess Odysseus was one of the first runaway characters as Homer had intended to submit the story to a 1000 word flash fiction competition and we all know how that ended up!

  4. Thank you for stopping by my blog. Yes Oranges make a perfect metaphor for life…. Your writing is eloquent. I want to write books but I get stuck on just one topic. I hope to write well on my blog until maybe the day the book opens up in my mind. Yes it is challenging for some like me. But this is life, My motto is one day at a time.

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