In my class period, Mr. Heidkamp posed an interesting question about the narrators of the story “The Cariboo Cafe”. From what I remember, he explained that how he thought that the girl’s perspective and the woman’s perspective fit together because they were both illegal immigrants and they both drove the story along. He then said that he didn’t see the purpose of the cook in the story. We didn’t end up answering this question, and ended up moving on.
I would argue that instead of the cook being unimportant, he had the most important role in the story. Without the cook, the story would have an entirely different ending. To begin with, the cook noticed the children right away when they came in with the woman. He noticed them because the young boy reminded the cook of his son. Without this connection, the cook most likely wouldn’t have payed much attention to the trio, let alone remember them. The cook described how he had many illegal immigrants eat in his cafe before, and so three more wouldn’t be that out of the ordinary.
The next, and most important part, is that the cook was the one to call the police. Because he made his own connection with the little boy, he remembered him when he saw the missing children poster. He then made the decision to call the police, which he was unsure about. If the cook hadn’t called the police, then the story wouldn’t have ended with the fight, and death, of the woman. If the cook had decided against making that call,
we don’t know what would have happened to the children. They could have never seen their parents again, or they could have found their way back to them with no harm coming to anyone. But in the end, the cook was the deciding factor of how the story would end.
One thought on “The Cook in “The Cariboo Cafe””
I agree that the cook does play a crucial role in the story, however I think for a different reason. Sure he the plot would not have worked out the way it did without him, but more importantly, the argument presented within the story would have been different. The cook represents the ignorant racism prevalent throughout America: those everywhere who paradoxically preface their racial prejudice by saying “I’m not racist,” and “I don’t see color.” Without this perspective, the author’s argument about the unjustified mistreatment of immigrants would not have been as strong and accurate.