At first glance the quote ‘life is like a box of chocolates seems’ rather silly. How could such a large and complicated concept such as life be compared to something as small and simple as a box of chocolates? There have been two opposing viewpoints in regards to the meaning of this quote, and each viewpoint comes about by a different analysis of what life and chocolates represent as well as what they mean in today’s world. The conclusion to the question can only come about through a thorough examination of the quote itself along with its possible entailments to see what both groups of people deem important and what they choose to ignore. Both arguments seem to work well to counter the other and show the flaws in the other explanation’s theory.
According to the World Book Encyclopedia, life is ‘a state, existence, or principle of existence conceived as belonging to the soul.’ Most people, when questioned about life would not have a very clear or concise answer because life is not something that is wholly tangible. In general life is considered to be everything that happens to a person from the moment they are born to the moment they die. All of their interactions with the world and all of their thoughts and actions. There does not seem to be any plan or order to these events, just everything that happens. Everything. Life is a long process with good, bad and indifferent points.
According to the World Book Encyclopedia, a box is ‘a container, usually with four stiff sides, a bottom, and a lid to pack or put things in,’ and chocolate is ‘a substance made by roasting and grinding cacao seeds.’ A box of chocolates would logically be a container which holds cacao products. A scientific dissection of a box of chocolates would show a box (usually rectangular or heart shaped) filled with anywhere from one to dozens of small, individually wrapped chocolates. Usually the type of chocolate and the filling of each individual varies inside a given package. In America however, a box of chocolates means much more then this simple addition of definitions and a direct visual analysis would lead one to believe.
A box of chocolates, in our referent system, is a symbol. It generally symbolizes love, and through metonymy, has been made to mean love. When a gift of a box of chocolates is given on Valentine’s Day, it more than symbolizes love, it actually means love. The meanings have become blurred over the years as chocolate has become a standard gift. It is not an original thought to give someone chocolate, but more a means of showing love. Not an act of love, but merely an expression of love.
The first group of people generally finish the simile ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ with the conclusion ‘you never know what you’re gonna get.’ This group views all the meanings of life and of the box of chocolates and found the best compilation to be that both in life, and in chocolates, there is randomness and a lack of order. When a person walks out of the front door of his house on a Monday morning, there is no way for him to know if he is going to find a hundred dollar bill tucked under his doormat, or a large meteor that has fallen and crushed his car. It’s hard to know if a day is going to be a good day or a bad day, you just know that it will be a day.
The same holds true for eating a box of chocolates. When you open a box of chocolates, there are rows of non-differentiated chocolates. They all look the same, and yet you know some are filled with cream, some with caramel and some with coconut. When you pick one up, much like when the man opens his front door, there is no way of knowing if you will get a good chocolate (cream) or a bad chocolate (coconut), you just know you’ll get a chocolate. For both examples it will not be easy to tell if it was good or bad until the chocolate, or the day, has been completed. You never know what will happen.
The second group of people generally finish the simile ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ with the conclusion ‘a thoughtless perfunctory gift that nobody really wants.’ This group takes up an opposing analysis and says that the important part of chocolates is not the randomness of them within the package, but instead the symbol that people don’t really think in life, but instead just perform as they are expected to. Since chocolates have come to mean love, people no longer do creative things to express their love. They simple buy chocolates. Once the chocolates are delivered, then what. People don’t actually want the chocolates, they want the love.
Since the chocolates have assumed the meaning of love, the chocolates themselves go to waste. Who wants to eat their love? Instead of being eaten immediately, as chocolates are truly intended to be, they are showed to friends and relatives, and eventually put on a shelf or in a cabinet. They will get eaten if someone shows desire, but it’s not important. Under this interpretation, life is pointless and merely for show. People don’t do things because it is what they feel that they should, people do things because they are expected to (just as the lover is expected to give chocolate). It is better to put up an lofty facade, then to be true and honest to the people around you.