The Importance of One’s Origins in Their Views on the World in the Novels An Indian Father’s Plea, Two Kinds and The Bookseller of Kabul
I was 10 when I entered the country of endless dreams and opportunities, America. I moved to a completely different country at the peak points of my adolescence. Everything around me was contradictory compared to my previous lifestyle in India, the scent, the weather, the people, and most importantly: culture. Each and everyone’s view on their own cultures may be different and they all have contrasting views, but their way of life is what brings togetherness in people. I was raised by normal Indian standards, and my culture shaped my personality and who I grew up to be.
My culture’s beliefs and traditions are significantly different than standard American culture. My religious beliefs are a major component that reflects on my views on other cultures. A person’s family origin, ethnicity, and religious beliefs all contribute to how a culture is shaped to have different views on others and the world. Each of these factors that are related to a culture’s views is present in the texts, “The Bookseller of Kabul” by Asne Sierstad, “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan, and finally, “An Indian Father’s Plea” by Robert Lake. As per the factors of how culture depicts how its view on its surrounding, the origin of the family is a constituent in its contrasting perspective on culture.
From the text, “An Indian Father’s Plea” by Robert Lake, is about the author, the father of a Native American student who is just trying to get used to western society and his culturally contradicting friends. This text is also about how the father is sharing his opinions and his reaction to how his child gets treated outside of his home. Wind Wolf is from a tribe and it is evident that his culture is much more complex and culturally dynamic than the western culture that he is trying to fit into. The author, in his defense, states that “ He is not culturally ‘disadvantaged’, but he is culturally ‘different’” (Lake, 11). Lake refers to quote to be one of his reasons to prove that his son is not a “slow learner” as stated in the story, but that his mere culture causes him to act and learn in different ways. After an inconsiderate interaction of Wind Wolf’s mother and his classmates’ parents, Wind Wolf’s family understands that racism will always be a challenge that they will have to face. The author states that Wind Wolf doesn’t feel comfortable and content at his school anymore because of the trauma he goes through almost every day. “ ‘Because you are Indians and we are white, and I don’t want my kids growing up with your kind of people’”(Lake, 15). This is the reaction that their family got and this shows how people that are considered a cultural minority go through racism and how differently they get treated. Racism changes how people view the world. This traumatic event that took place forever changes how safe Wind Wolf might feel in his society, and how he can’t help how culturally different he is. Therefore, these examples show how a person’s family contributes to how a culture is shaped to have different views on others and the world. Ethnicity is another factor of how culture depicts its views on surroundings, ethnicity is belonging to a group that has the same cultural beliefs. What someone looks like or what someone thinks of someone from that perspective also determines it.
The text, “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan, is based on a young girl, Jing-mei and her mother moved to the US after leaving their home country and family behind. Jing-mei’s mother made the life-changing decision to start a new life in America with the hope that moving to a country of endless dreams and opportunities will significantly make their lives better. Many countries that contain people looking for a better future basically look up to the “American dream” life, and want to achieve their dreams and goals. Furthermore, each of these countries is accommodated with cultures that hold people who speak different languages, contain different heritage and customs. And all these factors, which are of ethnicity, shows how each of these cultures views the American cultures. The text starts off from Jing-mei introducing the readers about her mother being convinced that, “…you could be anything you wanted to be in America. You could open a restaurant. You could work for the government and get a good retirement. You could buy a house with almost no money down. You could become rich. You could become instantly famous. ”(Tan, 1). Some people may choose not to follow their culture’s ideas. For example when the conversation between Jing-mei and her mother escalates into a clash, her mother states, “‘Only two kinds of daughters, ’ she shouted in Chinese. ‘Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!’… ‘I wish I weren’t your daughter, I wish you weren’t my mother…’”(Tan, 67-68). Jing-mei’s mother believed and hoped that a daughter who merely obeys her elders and makes them content, could only, metaphorically, live in their house. Jing-mei rebelled against her mother’s wishes and instead, she told her mother that she wishes that she was never her child because of the constant pressure and stress she’s put through every day. Jing-mei didn’t appreciate the ways of bringing up her culture, in fact, she was against it, and she wanted to escape her mother’s pressure. However this may not be true, the two pieces she plays at the end act as symbolism to the hopes and dreams that Jing-mei’s mother had for Jing-mei, but were really her own. Which she wanted to and, really, had to live through Jing-mei. Jing-mei may have had a childhood that she never wanted to have, but as she got older and matured into an independent woman, she understands that she had found acceptance. Therefore, these examples from this text proves that ethnicity, a factor of culture, contributes to how culture is shaped to have different views on others and the world. A final factor of this topic is religious beliefs. Many different cultures contain many different religious beliefs, they can be easily described as a person’s or a certain culture’s view on the reality of mythological, supernatural, or spiritual aspects of a religion.
The novel, “The Bookseller of Kabul” by Asne Seierstad, shows many perspectives of how their beliefs overall change how they view the world. The novel, majorly focuses on the constant and daily battle of women, surviving in their trapped world filled with discriminatory acts towards women and their lack of freedom. These descriptions of the lives of Afghan women may be shocking to a few, but for Afghans, unfortunately, this is normal and how their culture and traditions are. Yet, in some cases, people are either forced to accept and follow one’s culture and get brainwashed or people choose a different path in life in the means of changing their cultural ideas. In the novel, the author brings up a statement that shows how much attention a women’s rights get and how culture and its ideas can spread or influence others, “The known family is not in the habit of celebrating women”(Seinstad, 176). This quote also depicts how the Taliban culture has affected Afghan people’s view on women, which at last makes the men believe that they are superior to women in every way. But in some cases of the book, people choose to follow the restricting rules of the threatening party, long after it is evident that they aren’t under the control of the Taliban. The rules of the society on the views on women shown in the novel are completely unfair, “In Afghanistan a woman’s longing for love is taboo. It is forbidden by the tribes’ notion of honor and by the mullahs.
Young people have no reason to meet, to love, or to choose”. While you could argue that this is directed towards young people, male and female and that both of these genders don’t have the right to choose or love, the treatment of a woman who got caught being in love or just merely get seen with another man would be completely different. Religious beliefs are extremely important to cultures and their views and evidence from this novel contributes to how a culture is shaped to have different views on others and the world. It is clear that, with these factors and their explanation, even if the world either contains racism, unequal treatment or the heartbreak of not having the ability to gain control of one’s life, these are all how their culture is influenced by.
A person’s personal life experiences and their culture, morph their views on the world; and so people need to make the important decisions on how they treat people around them which can make life changing differences. From my experience, my culture and my new culture I’m introduced to were very contrasting. Furthermore, my ideas that I was brought up with my ideas and views on certain topics that I acquired at a later age gave me a sense of growth. On a final note, both of these cultures shaped me into who I am today.
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