The nineteenth century is remembered for its riches in literature and art. Stimulated by the activity in development and implementation of ideology, literature has seen a tremendous growth in both quality and number of stories poems and narratives. The thematic trend was complied with the sociopolitical environment and after war mood.
The increased number of civil rights activists and critics led to a wide spread bias against certain themes such as conflict and culture. To interrogate this thematic similarity and bias I shall interrogate two stories from two different authors (Barnet and Cain p 345-500).
Alice walker’s “Every Day” use tells the story of cultural social and ethnic conflict that is motivated by a conflict of ideas morals and values. Dee rejects the mainstream cultural pretext and proceeds to affiliate herself with a personalized and rather unaccepted heritage.
She fails to obey family traditions and heritage as a way of cutting back at the family history of oppression that she considers offensive and unacceptable.
The conflict between her new constructed culture and the tradition and culture that mama was brought up to know is an aftermath of the general mood of society after the effects of war and conflict that led to corruption of both morals and cultures.
Amidst many other themes such as power of education and women empowerment, the story makes an adequate disposition of conflict in the domestic arena as a representative sample of the conflict that was taking place at the time across the globe. The conflict in culture was mainly due to the difficulties that immigrants faced in embracing cultural transition. Dee was making an attempt at adjusting and transitioning to the new culture (p 50).
Amy tan on the other hand makes a rather detailed account of similar conflict and problems of cultural transition. She develops it based on two main dimensions. The internal conflict is one of cultural confusion that is motivated by varying standards of expectation.
Jing-mei looks into the mirror in frustration after her ambitious mother who had high hopes of her making it through in the new cultural context gave her tests that she could not apprehend because she had not learnt them her mother’s aggressiveness is her bid to divorce the cultural attitude towards women and she saw a great opportunity for her daughter (p3-8).
On the alternate end the cultural external conflict that is characterized by cultural transition is represented by daughters perception of their mothers broken English as stupid and the mothers on the other hand being impatient with their female children’s ability to perceive of cultural nuances of their native Chinese language and culture to their children. Cultural conflict and transition places these two stories on a common thematic realm.
“Every Day” use is a story that captures the tumultuous period of afro Americans struggle to embrace and adjust to the social cultural and political values of the American society in the 1960s and early 70s. This period was characterized by a sudden interest in the American contribution in the American history buy both literature enthusiasts and literary scientist.
This period saw many black Americans make attempts at recognition in the political social and economic realm. The story therefore reflects this mood of cultural struggle that was motivated by the bleak history of slavery and slave trade. The story is developed amidst an ideological era that saw the rise and fall of many ideological regimes some peaceful and others violent (Harmon and Hugh, p 105).
“Two Kinds” on the other hand makes the case for the Chinese society’s apprehension of westernization through education and modernization. The onset of colonial influence brought education that developed conflicting morals and perceptions that stood in the way of cultural transition. The story captures this transition and the huddles that the 19th century Chinese cultural definition faced.
The two novels display a great since of similarity in both qualitative and quantitative aspects.
Education is depicted as a common source of cultural conflict in both stories. It is portrayed as standing in the way of cultural growth and transition. On one end, it acts as a bridge for the transition from cultural and primitive ideology and perception to modern and western ways.
Dee’s mother struggled to take her to school because she was denied education herself. As a child, her school faced closure and that was the end to her chance at an education despite her high ambition and optimism. Jing-mei’s mother on the other hand is confident and positive that her daughter will make it through any education in America. She gives her tests that she has not even learnt and admires the presenter on television and thinks the same of her daughter.
On the other hand, education is considered as a barrier to the passing on of culture. The older generations are not confident that their children will be able to pass the cultural nuances to their children. In turn, the older generation is seen to force cultural provisions on the younger generation.
The setting of both stories in between the span of 1920 and 1970. They both reflect an element of youthful daughters who are faced with the problem of cultural transition into the American society. It also provides a stage for the relationship between mother and daughter as representatives of native culture and the modern western culture.
All the memories of the mothers in the stories have a relatively common thematic similarity of cultural and traditional injustice that takes place in china for the two things story and America for the “Every Day” use story. Their daughters on the other hand have a chance at an American societal experience through education.
These stories convey a common affirmative tone that is representative of feminist ideology doing the mid and end of the 19th century. They capture the challenges that the 21th century generation faced in transitioning into new ways of the western trend.
Barnet, Sylvan and Cain, William .Literature for Composition. New York. Longman Publishing, 2005 p 345-500
Harmon, William and Hugh, Holman .A Handbook to Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Prentice-Hall, 1999.
Tan, Amy. Two kinds.1989 p, 3-8. Retrieved on 8/7/11 from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CEwQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Folsen-classpage.wikispaces.com%2Ffile%2Fview%2FTwoKindsfulltext.pdf&ei=LVs-Tv7tKcSyhAfy0qjABw&usg=AFQjCNHH9iBHvBhUNj-hfCXi7E0Lsn_xLA&sig2=r1duoN-hYOMl4zERL9IhlA
Walker, Alice. Everyday use. New York. Rutgers University Press, 1994 p3-229