01-The_string_around_the_dog - The string around the dog...

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The string around the dog The candy bar was promising a mouth thick with chocolate and caramel. It offered a sugary refuge, a distraction, brief but complete. But when the boy moved his hands in his pockets there was no welcome sound of coins. The shopkeeper said, Boy run along or pay up, so he made his way home. The streets smelled like sewage, its stink cut through the bitter cold, and he tried to hold his breath. He reached the hill and was forced to hold the sleeves of his navy jacket against his nose. The cold was making him sniffle and he knew Umma would be angry. She only washed his uniform once a week, on Sunday when he did not have school. Some of the wealthier boys at school had more than one pair of jacket and pants; these boys were first rank. First rank meant you got to sit close to the radiators and got to play foot ball. If you were in first rank, you were one from a yangban family , noble class, or you were strong or very smart. But the boy was none of these things; he was second rank. Second rank meant you had to do whatever first rank said. But on this day these things were not troubling the boy. One of the first rank boys, Chang-Seok, who everyone said was the most decent, had taken a liking to him. Someone had kicked the ball too far and the boy had fetched it and given it to Chang- Seok, the team captain and first-rate goalkeeper. Thanks, he had said and flashed his clean smile. When it was time to go inside, Chang-Seok ran past him with some of his friends, and given him a friendly slap on the shoulder. It was this gesture of friendship he was remembering so intently while taking off his shoes to go inside. He almost stepped in before realizing that his parents were having a loud argument. His hand froze at he door. He knew what was waiting for him. The time he’d spent salivating over the candy
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bar cost him precious minutes; he was already past due. Abba did not take kindly to latecomers. In truth, his Abba never took to him kindly. Their small corner store had not been doing well lately. Abba and Umma were both shouting. She about his inability to make money, his no-good brother who was always borrowing from what little savings they had. He about how little work she did, watching her soaps all day and all he asked for was a clean house and a nice dinner. Then she would get quiet and menacing and ask haven’t I slaved for you, haven’t I given you a son. It would only get worse the moment the boy stepped inside. Yes, this son, his Abba would say, never looking at him. This no good son you’ve given me. But the boy did not step inside. He knew he would have to come home eventually and when he did he would get the beating of his life. He turned around anyway, back onto the street. Maybe some of Chang-Seok’s bravado had rubbed off on him; the boy felt ready for anything. And it was this feeling that brought an idea to his mind. Today he would go to the grain mill, where some of the first rank boys went to smoke American
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This note was uploaded on 06/22/2008 for the course ENL 100F taught by Professor Joewenderoth during the Winter '08 term at UC Davis.

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01-The_string_around_the_dog - The string around the dog...

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