The story has prominently described the culture and norms of the Doukhobor people. Thus, culture is a pertinent theme that expresses the way life of people in the story. Culture is expressed in the form of dressing, marriage cannons, and food. The theme of culture helps build the plot as the life of the people are tied around it.
The Doukhobor community love and adore their food as a cultural insignia. Marusas rose to become the head cook at weddings and funerals because of her cooking prowess in borsch, a traditional meal revered by the Doukhobor community. We are told her borsch became so famous, she should graduated to head cook at weddings and funerals,(10) a position of honor in the community. It is also incumbent that a good wife knows how to cook after Marusa got married the story says Marusa was becoming an expert cook, her pirahi pastry light, and her borsch renowned(52) and she was favorite to become the next the head cook at weddings and funerals. It is clear that food was an imperative cultural identity in the story, and it has helped to develop the plot of the story (Anderson, 1992).
Marriage is another cultural edict that captures the attention of this community. The concept of marriage arrests the thoughts of many women with daughters ready to be wedded. The mothers find Peter to be a good catch, Peter was considered an exceedingly good catch, especially by the mothers of marriageable daughters(10). The culture of marriage is honored in the community that a position for the head of cook at weddings and funerals was appointed, and other women joined to help with the cooking arrangement. Marriage is, therefore, appears as a strand of unity thats ties and bonds the community together (Plotnikoff, 1994).
Culture, particularly marriage, has led to conflict within the society especially between the young and old. The bone of contention between Marusa and her mom is because she has refused to wear a wedding cloth sown by her mom. Her cousin Ana, comes to her defense and assures her to put on what she desires since it is her wedding. The action infuriates her mother, and her aunt tries to diplomatically arrive at a solution in vain. Marusa says, Its my wedding, and I should wear whatever I want (10) in protest to the idea of her wearing a wedding dress sewn by her mother (Priyadarshini, 2013). This cultural aspect unveils the dilemma among many young members of the society who feel they are being forced to follow the elders preferences at the expense of their desires.
Culture has played a pivotal role in developing the theme of the story. Food has a special place in the society, and it has defined a lot of association within the community. Marriage despite its imperativeness has been the pivot of conflict in the society. Older people like Florence appreciate the need for tradition, but young persons like Marusa and Ana are bent on exploring the world. Ana even thinks of joining the university. The story is one that articulates these differences and tries to show how culture further amplifies the differences.
Anderson, I. (1992). Other days around me. [Devlin, Ont.]: [Donaldson and Poutanen].
Plotnikoff, V. (1994). Head cook at weddings & funerals and other stories of Doukhobor life. Vancouver: Polestar.
Priyadarshini, S. (2013). Funerals, weddings skew South Asia emission figures. Nature India. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nindia.2013.137
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