Why We Chose It: “Sani-White” by Theresa Mangold

This flash creative nonfiction piece takes place in the past, yet is written in present tense. Mangold is telling a story which captures a brief scene from her childhood, yet with her diction this scene is elongated in such way that the three main characters—the author and her parents—are uniquely described and their personalities strongly portrayed. We thought this piece to be very well-written, with a concise yet needed exposition, and full of a great balance of scenes with and without dialogue, and meditation on a scene.

Marigold starts by declaring her desire for a cookie. She follows by explaining how her dad sometimes brings Nilla wafers home from work, and she states, “Everybody behaved at dinner, so if I ask nicely and say please, he may give me one….” This shows that she’s comfortable with her father and able to approach him. When Mangold’s mother enters the room, she says, “I hold in a sigh. So much for Nilla wafers.” This shows how strict the author’s mother is, and how Mangold didn’t feel comfortable asking for things with her mother present. From this, it can be guessed that Mangold doesn’t have a good relationship with her mother. One sentence that stood out to me in the piece is, “The harsh ring of Mom’s voice cuts through the air like an alarm, and I jump.” The description of her mother’s voice as a “harsh ring” and “alarm” shows that she doesn’t particularly enjoy the sound of her mother’s voice, therefore hinting that the author and her mother could have a tense and distant relationship in comparison to the relation of Mangold and her father. At the end of the piece, when Mangold and her father are left alone, “‘Hey,’ he says, his voice low and conspiratorial. ‘How about a Nilla Wafer?’” This concluding sentence brings the piece together by solving the author’s initial conflict of wanting a cookie.

Throughout the entire piece there are awkward encounters and tension in the air, described through dialogue and scene. Through the mother’s aggressive actions and the father’s unfazed manner, there sends a message that the father has had to deal with this many times before, so now he’s used to it. As the narrator describes the scenes she seems frightened by her mother, tensed by her touch, and the only way her father can console her is by giving her a Nilla wafer.

 

Kaylee Rodriguez is a Creative Nonfiction Writer and Social Media co-leader for Levitate Magazine. She likes elephants, Kendrick Lamar, and coffee.

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