“Cutie Pie”

Sweets from a Stranger coverAnother one, it seems, that has been used for teaching: you can find the text here, some sample questions and answers here, and even a trailer for a student film, here. Cutie-Pie is an alien, captured and returned to Earth by prospecting astronauts, and named by the masses. Interestingly, in the context of “Swap-Shop” and “Nightmare’s Dream”, which now seem to represent a sort of progress towards the alien, almost the entire story is told from Cutie-Pie’s point of view. His real name is Ch-tsal, and he’s suffering terribly. Uncomprehending humans are keeping him in an enclosure whose environmental conditions match those of the place where he was found; unfortunately, that place was not Ch-tsal’s native habitat. Eventually he escapes and fines a human baby with whom, at night time, he can commune:

[The baby] It did not talk of what it knew now (which was next to nothing) but of what it had always known; its race memories. Ch-tsal learned what it was like for a human to plunge through a great wave, green and icy; to hunt down animals in dark forests; to let fly an arrow and somehow know for certain, as it left the bow, that it would hit its mark. He learned of the glories of battle. the terrors of defeat, the chill wickedness of snakes, the smell of wood smoke.

In his turn, Ch-tsal told the baby of the building of crystal cities, of creatures in caves, of the pioneer ships that opened up the galaxy, of the Venus invaders and how they were repulsed, of the five ways of knowing God, and of the taste of a certain food that grew only when his planet’s three moons were full.

Much as I admire the story for refusing a human perspective almost entirely, I can’t help feeling it’s one of the lesser stories in Sweets for a Stranger; Ch-tsal just isn’t very satisfyingly alien. Perhaps the story’s teachability is that there’s an obvious comparison to be made with another work that first appeared in 1982. (The collection appeared in 1982, at least; the frustratingly incomplete copyright information indicates that some stories were also published in 1978, 1979, and 1980, but gives not indication as to which those might be.)

2 thoughts on ““Cutie Pie”

  1. please anyone can help me in making the Dialogues of this chapter.we have to do a drama of this chapter

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