Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cultural Contact Points

The three readings assigned for this week illustrate the dynamic of cultural identity under circumstances where two differing cultures meet. The characters depicted in these stories represent cultural amalgamation and assimilation. Their mixed-ethnic composition prompts them to take ownership of their diverse heritage in spite of their culturally polarized society. The conceptualization  of "Homelands" in these stories consists of locations on the boarder of two differing cultures. Every character asserts their own uniqueness and refutes the notion of cultural singularity. Their stories contradict this notion by demonstrating the ethnic and cultural diversity prevalent at cultural contact points such as the boarders of a nation.

The United States/Mexico boarder consists of an integrated rather than polarized group of individuals. Gloria Anzaldua embodies cultural diversity and proudly expresses her mixed "mestizo" heritage. The pride she takes in her lineage correlates with the notion of diversity at cultural contact points. The Native American characters demonstrate similar degrees of adamant pride in their cultural roots. After the near obliteration of Native American culture, surviving Natives were given an ultimatum between opting for American or Canadian citizenship. Many infuriated Natives refused to give European's the satisfaction of claiming or "winning over" their Native American culture such as the protagonist Laetitia’s mother. When asked at the boarder what side she originated from, she replies, "The Blackfoot side." Her mother's pride in her tribal heritage in the face of a white man demonstrates her resilience in the face of the very men who steadily continued to ravage Native American culture. Sophie's grandmother demonstrates her cultural confusion and her disdain resulting from her family's amalgamation of Irish and Chinese cultures. Her feelings are indicative by her outburst and brutal punishments of her granddaughter Sophie. Only through Bess does she find solace in her mixed herratige when Bess calls her an "Honorary Irish." This title seems to alleviate the family's concern regarding their mixed origins and further facilitates their cultural assimilation.

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