The symbolism of citrus fruit in Encounter

Encounter episode 13 tangerine syrup JH's mother.png

What caught my attention in the episode 13 is this Now, you are wondering why. JH’s mother is using the tangerine syrup in order to lure CSH. And this contrasts to teacher Lee’s gesture in the episode 6:

Encounter episode 6 JH and Lee mandarine.png

Both pictures have something in common, the citrus fruit. Before analyzing the first scene mentioned above, we have to pay attention to teacher Lee’s gesture. Lee gave the mandarine to show JH her support and comfort. Her gesture was very warm, even motherly because she had peeled the mandarin for him before. In that scene, we could see that Mrs. Lee was worried, yet she never said anything about it. She offered the fruit which made JH happy. Moreover, it seems to me that offering an orange can signify wishing him good luck because tangerine and chance have the same sound in Chinese. Lee’s gesture indicated that she would support him no matter what.  

Now, observe the contrast with the tangerine syrup. First, the mother didn’t offer this tangerine syrup directly, she had to use LDC and JMJ in order to reach CSH. Then she is not offering a tangerine as such, but a syrup. We all know that syrup is made of sugar and too much sugar can become poisonous. I connect the syrup to the love of JH’s mother. The love of JH’s mother for her son and her family is actually too much. This explains why she points out that she wants her family to be as they have been. She is refusing any change, especially when it comes to JH. The latter has always loved her so much… remember the smile he had, when he was talking to his mother over the phone and got caught by CSH. The latter thought, he was talking to his girlfriend. So for the mother, it has nothing to do with CSH as such. She uses her special status as an excuse. She acts like a jealous woman. So offering the tangerine syrup was a poison, CSH thought, she had been accepted. Imagine the pain, when she realized that it was the opposite. JH’s mother heard her son saying to his father that he couldn’t live without CSH but notice, she avoided to hear it from her son herself. By not hearing it herself, she can act behind his back excusing herself that she had no idea. Moreover, she can dismiss it, saying that JH will overcome it. To conclude, JH’s mother loves JH too much, just like the syrup is symbolizing it. (love = sweet) That’s why we offer chocolates to our loved ones (=sweets). She is actually trying to kill the love between JH and CSH with the tangerine syrup. The syrup fits the mother’s personality: the sweetness of her manners and voice can not make us overlook that she is trying to destroy that wonderful love. Besides, the mother’s request is too unrealistic: her family not to change is impossible… her sons will leave her at some point and start their own family.  

JH’s mother uses her “weak constitution” and “gentle, sweet manners” in order to have her family focused on her. That way she is able to get her ways. Her words towards CSH were actually rude in my opinion:

– First, she expected CSH to be upset. She never mentioned the word “pain, suffer” or something similar. She implied that CSH’s pride had been hurt or CSH considered herself as superior. 

– Secondly,  she made an allusion that CSH had never intended to marry JH. “Dating doesn’t lead to marriage”.

– Thirdly, she claimed that CSH and JH belonged to two different worlds. This showed that she had no idea about CSH and had huge prejudice about her. Moreover, she used this as an excuse that they couldn’t be together.

To conclude, the mother is as selfish as the other mothers in this drama. Her own fear and her desire to keep her son by her side were the reasons for the rejection. The syrup of tangerines was a gift as a departure, a reminder that our heroine should do what the mother asked her. She perverted the gesture, the wish of good luck was turned into the opposite.  

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