The story is set in a city in the Philippines. The young narrator begins by describing his large family. Though they are poor they are full of mischief and laughter. The children are all strong and healthy even though they often go hungry. In contrast, their rich neighbor’s children are thin and sickly although they are given plenty of good food, which their impoverished neighbors enjoy smelling over the fence. Consequently, the rich man brings a charge against the narrator’s family for stealing the spirit of his family’s food. The absurd case goes to court, and the narrator’s father agrees to pay back the rich neighbor. He does this by collecting coins from all his friends present in his hat, then shaking the hat full of coins. Being charged to pay for the spirit of food which his family supposedly got from its smell, he maintains that the jingling of the coins is a fair equivalent. The judge rules in the poor father’s favor, and the rich man is forced to depart with no other payment than the “spirit” of the money the poor man collected.
What I learned from reading this story is that, poverty is not a hindrance to having a healthy and happy family. It taught me that we should enjoy life as it is even though there are a lot of hardships on the way. It reminded me also that you cannot rely your happiness on material things. Like the character of the rich man, he may have everything but in the end, he can’t find any contentment resulting that He became sick. (I think it also shows how the rich man became depressed through time that’s why he and his family became so sick.) The rich man in the story is very selfish that he did not want to socialize with other people and he only cared about his wealth and his riches. We have to see that riches and wealth are temporary, and learn that we need to value our relationships with our family, friends, and other people which can last a lifetime.
It teaches us also to find humor in simple things. There is also an old saying that says happy people live life longer and I believe that is true. If we just enjoy things, whatever situation we are in, it may be difficult or easy but having a positive mind and a happy perspective will change things a lot. 🙂