Essay Example on Cultural Encounters Manifestation in Literary Works

Published: 2022-12-20
Essay Example on Cultural Encounters Manifestation in Literary Works
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  English literature Literature Multiculturalism
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 971 words
9 min read


Culture is a set of distinct ideas, customs, and social behaviors possessed by a particular group of people. In the short story Martha Martha, the story revolves around two main characters Martha and Pam who are searching for a house for Martha. Martha's parents are from Nigeria and Pam is an American. She wants to study law and with the help of Pam, a house agent, she finds a house from where she flees at the end of the story. The two represent different cultures and they behave differently. Pam displays the character of the typical American, she is a profound character and very curious about Martha's past, she asks too many questions that Martha answers in cautious and curt manner. It is without a doubt that Martha faces the struggle of accepting her past. The two characters are linked by the struggle with their past and the discontent they have with their present condition.

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How is the concept of cultural encounter treated in the story? Is it a mere encounter?

In the story Martha Martha, the story is mainly based on two characters of different cultural background. Martha is so secretive and very cautious in her conversation with Pam, she struggles to keep her past life to herself. The story explores the budding relationship between Pam, a character that is born and raised in America, and a Nigerian girl who has moved to England for studies. The cultural encounter is treated as the main source of character building in the story. Pam represents the typical Americans in the way that she is profound and curious. She perceives Martha as rude and uncivil by the way she responds to questions.

Culture creates the main theme of the story. Pam represents the White open and self-spoken people. However, she likes gossiping about people who she has contact with. Whenever she comes across a new person, she looks for a particular trait that is worth gossiping about. At one incident when Martha goes to her house agency office, she asks her about her Nigerian origin which Martha denies. She suggests that she is not American because of her name, this shows that she is more informed about culture. Martha, on the other hand, is rude, uncivil, and less informed according to Pam (SMITH, 2005). However, she struggles to hide her past because she does not want to be looked down due to her origin. She represents a society of Black Americans who find it hard to fit in the society where they are surrounded by Americans. She does not share her encounters and struggles as many Pam does. Later in the story, she flees from the house she acquired due to emotional weight that seems to be heavy for her.

Is the author aware of the cultural encounter theme? How does she manifest her awareness in terms of ideas and selection of words?

The author is aware of the cultural encounters faced by the characters she uses. The author is aware that many people who migrate to America live in less expensive houses and she uses Martha to strengthen her argument. She also uses English that is accented to indicate Martha's origin which Pam notices. For instance, when Martha asks Pam, "do you get a lot of University people?" this shows alteration of language due to the origin (SMITH, 2005). Also, Martha seems to be less informed and doesn't like how other Americans behave. The use of words like black people and people of color shows the ability of the author to put emphasis on the theme of culture. The author is aware of the cultural encounter theme, and that is why she builds the main characters of different cultures to make the theme more vivid.

Pam's awareness of the Cultural encounter theme

Pam plays a vital role to give this theme a foundation. She is the only character who comes into contact with a lot of people (SMITH, 2005). However she is aware of the theme, her relation with different people from different ethnic groups is as a result of work, school, and residency. Her daily life is encountered with situations at her working agency where she has to meet different people. In the same way, she met Martha. She expresses her awareness by her socialness and openness to Martha.

Martha's awareness of the cultural encounter theme

Martha does not necessarily create social relations with people. She does not talk much about herself to Pam, and she cautiously answers her questions to Pam. However, she indicates the sense of creation of a social relation by responding to all the questions asked by pam without being offended. This indicates that though she wants to create a relation with Pam, she is worried to disclose her secrets to her (TEW, 2013).

Use of the concepts of color, to highlight the theme

The author uses the concept of color to show the interaction of people of different backgrounds. She uses two main characters of different color where Martha is colored, and Pam is white. The two characters show how different societies interact and communicate with each other. The use of color is widespread all over the story, and it gives the reader a clear understanding of the beliefs and behaviors of different races in the world and how they relate with other different races and the notions behind every community.

Works Cited

Birchwood, M. (2013). Cultural encounters between East and West: 1453-1699. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Press.

Hallam, E. (2013) Cultural Encounters: Representing Otherness. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Sahni, K. (2010). Cross-cultural Encounters. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Smith, Z. (2005). Martha and Hanwell. London, Penguin Books.

Tew, P. (2013). Reading Zadie Smith: the first decade and beyond.

Zapf, H. (2003). Cultural encounters in the New World: literatur- und kulturwissenschaftliche Beitrage zu kulturellen Begegnungen in der Neuen Welt. Tubingen, Narr.

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