Summary, analysis, and review of Conceptual Fruit by Thaisa Frank, a strange mixture of technology, sentiment, and social realism. The story appears in the collection Sleeping in Velvet.
Thaisa Frank’s Conceptual Fruit is a deeply touching story that leaves a pang in the readers’ minds. It tells us about a caring father who desperately hopes that technology will help him to make life happier for his mentally challenged daughter.
Greta is a mentally challenged girl of sixteen. Her father wants to show her a website where she could create a house of her own. This idea evokes only a cold response from her mother and brother who do not care much about Greta’s happiness. The father creates a street called Greta’s street and a house called Greta’s house. He tells her that she could fill her house with anything she wants. Greta wants a bowl in every room with peaches in it. The father creates a kitchen and tells her to click the bowl to see the magic.
Greta clicks the bowl and the word peaches appear. But Greta is disappointed. She wants only real fruits. She doesn’t understand why people like them when they are not real. The father now creates other rooms. Just when he is about to create a bathroom, Greta reminds him that it is not a real house and people wouldn’t use it. In fact, they could create anything, but they make no sense to Greta, since they are not real.
Finally she gets bored of the unreal world of computers and leaves to help her mother. The story ends with the father hoping for a better tomorrow for his differently-abled daughter. He hopes that she would have a house with an orchard and real fruits to put in real blue bowls.
Analysis of the story: ‘Conceptual Fruit’ may very well be termed as a ‘technology story’. But it is also human and full of tender moments. When Greta says “I thought you could make real peaches,” the readers cannot but sympathise with her and the father. The sad plight of Greta, the cold insensitivity of the mother and the brother, and the desperate hopes of the father lend a deeply humane touch to the story.
On the other hand, Greta seems to be more sensible than the so called intelligent ones who live in the make-believe world of technology. She expects real peaches and she cannot understand why people love peaches in the computer which are not real. She also says she doesn’t need a bathroom in her house because nobody is going to use the house. The question is whether technology can offer a helping hand to those who are denied the daily charms of regular life. At least for Greta, it is not technology, but the care and concern of the father that illuminates her world.
Bottom line: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. What to call you if you hope to eat a conceptual fruit?