Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Importance of Symbols

Symbols within a culture become especially important when that culture is forced to adapt to a new culture. For the Maori people, “Dollarmen” or industry from other countries come in and essentially take over their land. When the stench of factory stacks and greedy businesses take over the land the local culture and the ties to the land become less and less significant. Holding on to cultural symbols is one of the few ways to keep a culture around. Patricia Grace discusses through the many different short stories the unique symbols in Maori culture that even still today remain.
One significant symbol to the Maori people is the wharenui which is a kind of meeting house for the people and remains an important place where rituals take place. The building serves as an important building, not necessarily sacred, to the Maori. It is considered to be a central place for their community which is important especially when their land is threatened to be essentially overtaken by businesses and industry.
The language in Grace’s novel serves as another kind of symbol. For me, who has no experience with this culture, I felt somewhat connected to the character’s stories because children have a fresh perspective on everything. The way many of these characters look at the world is how I to am experiencing their world. A brand new, never- been- tainted-before lens of the Maori culture. Through the children’s and their relative’s perspective of the culture I am able to understand it. Especially the way Grace incorporates the language which teaches people not experienced with the culture how Maori people interact with one another.

Although only a few significant symbols like the community center and the language itself are presented in my blog post, there are many more in the novel. Grace used the symbols in a creative way which made me feel connected to the characters in a different way than I’ve experienced in other texts. 

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