Cultural encounters can prove to be very enriching to all those involve, yet could prove very confusing and disrupting. In most cases these encounters lead to conflict of values, both at the individual and societal levels. Explore how cultural encounters are manifested in literary works, specifically short stories from An Anthology of Short Stories from Five Continents, with particular reference to “One out of Many” by V. S. Naipaul.
In the process of answering the TMA, you should make sure to include the below five sub questions:
1) How is the concept of cultural encounter treated in the short story “One out of Many”?
2) Is the author, V. S. Naipaul, aware of the cultural encounter theme? How does she manifest that awareness?
3) Are the main characters, mainly Santosh, aware of the cultural encounter theme? What clues does he provide of such awareness, if any?
4) How does the usage of “clothes” highlight the theme of cultural encounter in “One out of Many”?
5) How does the usage of “contrasts” (present versus past, now versus then, here versus home) throughout the short story help in highlighting the theme of cultural encounter?
Excellent answers showing confident and wide-ranging knowledge of core material, good understanding of any relevant theory, and a capacity to address the question in a structural, direct and effective way, thoughtfully and with insight. Originality of thought or ideas from outside the course are an added asset. Examples are to the point.
Very good answers showing secure knowledge of course materials. Adopting an analytical approach and providing relevant discussion covering most of the key issues. Distinguished from A answers by being less insightful or by showing less comprehensive knowledge of the course.
The Concept of Cultural Encounter in “One out of Many”
Culture is the qualities and information of a specific gathering of individuals, characterized by everything from dialect, religion, cooking, social propensities, music, and expressions. it could also be further depicted as shared examples of practices and communications, intellectual builds and understanding that are found out by socialization (Tadesse and White, 2010). The term cultural encounter is utilized to allude to social relations, places and questions. They require common change and learning and rarely happen without strife. Social experiences carry with them development and change, regardless of whether therefore of tourism, movement, expansionism or war. It challenges the thoughts regarding social homogeneity and the constant way of conventions. They are additional markers of progress and advancement.
There are several types of cultural encounters, some of the examples include; Clash of cultures. This type of cultural encounter is characterized by the hostility of violence from encounters that are very different (Shalom, 2012). The second one is cultural divergence. This happens because of a culture experiencing a procedure of separation in which diverse social introductions create prompting their atomization and a resulting showdown with the first culture. There is also the cultural assimilation cultural encounter. In this encounter one culture, more often than not a prevailing one acclimatizes a weaker one. Such cases may take after an earlier battle or triumph. The final is the cultural diffusion. This happens while associating societies turn out to be progressively between connected and a procedure of societal inter-penetration happens obscuring the limits between the way of life in entire or to a limited extent
Cross-cultural encounters have it impacts both positive and negative on societies. Individuals can get to learn and understand a different perspective of various cultures.This allows coexisting of societies who have different cultural backgrounds. It also provides a medium where societies and individuals with different cultures can learn from each other e.g. cooking, arts and music. In some cases, the cross-cultural encounter may cause a cultural shock since cultures may be exactly opposite or shocking to other cultures. This will tend to create hostility, mistrust, and violence
Several cross-cultural encounters are portrayed in the story of “one out of many”. The main character, Santosh an Indian cook who travels with his boss to Washington dc experience a hardcore cultural encounter. His initial experience is when he was on a plane where he noted other passengers looking at him differently because of his dressing mode. Back at home in Bombay, his dress code was more than normal but on the plane, it was different. He also felt peculiar about their dress code to he depicts in the story that they wore formal attire like they were attending a wedding. The other encounter he had is when he was going to a bar bare feet but he was not allowed to enter. This was a surprise to him as back at home people would remove their shoes. His lacks of knowledge in foreign currency exchange, US dollars to Rupees. He miscalculates when buying something or spends money given to him for nine days by the employer as if he was in Bombay.
The Awareness of Cultural Encounter Theme in the Story
How the concept of cultural encounter is treated in the short story “One out of Many”?
The concept of the cross-cultural encounter has been treated categorically. Santosh has been depicted as a victim of a new culture showing the negative impacts cross-cultural encounters have. The story also illustrates that in the case of a cultural encounter; there must be a dominant one depending on the origin and the intensity of the location of the culture. This is evident when Santosh has to choice built to adapt to the ways of his new country. It has also depicted societies can perceive certain cultures to be inferior. When Santosh has an affair with a house cleaner that is referred as a hubushi in the Indian culture ( Lomsky and Leibovitz, 2010).This woman’s culture is perceived to be inferior in the sense that Santosh feels ashamed of her when he relates with his culture and refuses to marry her at first (Sue, S. and Zane, 2009)
The story also depicts various types of cultures: culture assimilation and cultural divergence. In culture assimilation, it is evident that Santosh’s culture is not dominant in New York. He has trouble in life that prompts him to learn and absorb the new culture to survive and have a comfortable life. In cultural divergence, is effectively depicted in the story. Santosh has not contact with his culture as she did back at home where everything correlated with his upbringing and beliefs. This poor connection with his culture pulls him away from it embracing to a new one
Santosh later comes to accept himself and embrace the new culture have he resolved his identity crisis. He realized his obsession to follow suit with his culture was the reason that he had troubles. This all started when he met the hubushi girl who is presented as a medium for Santosh change
Is the author, V. S. Naipaul, aware of the cultural encounter theme? How does he manifest that awareness?
The author for the duration of his life has craved a place to relate to. From genealogical mining, his country (the Caribbean). through the mission for his social roots (India), lastly to his place of education (England). he has endeavored to scan for his own identity. Being an Indian by family line, a Trinidadian by birth, and an Englishman by education, V. S. Naipaul has a multi-cultural background (Smith, F.M., 2010).He manifests his awareness of a cultural encounter theme through depicting the troubles that Santosh went through when he experienced a cultural clash in New York. Audiences who are aware of the author’s background can fathom the ideology that most of the experiences that Santosh went through were the author’s experience in his life journey
Are the main characters, mainly Santosh, aware of the cultural encounter theme? What clues does he provide of such awareness, if any?
Yes, the main character is aware of a cultural encounter theme. This is evident when the social distinction amongst Santosh and his encompassing in Washington makes him feel awkward, More often than not, he can stroll shoeless back at home without any issue since it was normal. However, in Washington it was not the case even receiving service for some tea. Such scenarios make Santosh want to go back to Bombay. He also saw "many people who looked like his own people" (Naipaul, 2002), it does not make him feel at home. Truth be told, it irritates him in light of the fact that these individuals are different with him.They talk dress sleep as they were born there, in spite of the fact that they had a similar appearance with Santosh.
The Clues Provided by the Main Characters Regarding the Theme
How does the usage of “clothes” highlight the theme of cultural encounter in “One out of Many”?
This is depicted when Santosh boards a plane with his boss to New York. He notices people looking at him differently and commenting or making fun of his attire. He noticed that he did not fit in the new culture, regardless of him wearing his domestic clothes. He is even astonished by the passengers’ clothes; he addressed them “they wore clothes for attending a wedding”. This irritates him in a way
The main character’s innocence and experience depicts a cultural encounter highlighting the theme of clothes
How does the usage of “contrasts” (present versus the past, now versus then, here versus home) throughout the short story help in highlighting the theme of the cultural encounter?
The purpose of contrast in this storyline was to show the audience the impacts cross-cultural encounters in societies and individuals. It has also been used in showing how individuals perceive other cultures from different regions. Some view their own cultures as superior to others and disregard them. Like, in this case, Santosh did not want to marry piyra as she was from a different culture that is regarded inferior in his community (Schmidt, G., 2011). Today cultural boundaries have being broken down. A Santosh character can board a plane to New York wearing their traditional attire and still look normal. Nevertheless, the only cultural boundary that still stands strong is religion (Crossick, and Kaszynska, 2014).
Taking everything into account, the contentions of personality in Santosh is depict through illustrating several inner meaning of cultural encounter themes; social picture of America, the impact of Santosh depicting him a social stun, and the monetary component . Notwithstanding, in spite of the fact that he feels he will be put Into decimation by the new culture, despite everything, he needs embrace it, on the grounds that as he looks in the mirror, the more seasoned personality turn out to be more terrible (Samovar, Porter and McDaniel, 2015). Truth be told, he cannot separate from his previous personality that until the finish of the story despite everything it frequents him. Finally, it makes a perplexity of character toward him that he cannot choose which the better one is, or, which is really fit with him.
Crossick, G. and Kaszynska, P., 2014. Under construction: Towards a framework for cultural value. Cultural Trends, 23(2), pp.120-131.
Lomsky-Feder, E. and Leibovitz, T., 2010. Inter-ethnic encounters within the family: Competing cultural models and social exchange. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(1), pp.107-124.
Naipaul, V. S. (2002). In a Free State. London: Picador.
Samovar, L.A., Porter, R.E., McDaniel, E.R. and Roy, C.S., 2015. Communication between cultures. Nelson Education.
Schmidt, G., 2011. Migration and Marriage. Nordic Journal of Migration Research, 1(2), pp.55-59.
Shalom, S., 2012. Mapping and interpreting cultural differences around the world. In Value frameworks at the theoretical crossroads of culture. Intercultural research (pp. 340-379). Shanghai foreign language Education press.
Smith, F.M., 2010. Working in Different Cultures 12. Key Methods in Geography, p.157.
Sue, S. and Zane, N., 2009, August. The role of culture and cultural techniques in psychotherapy: A critique and reformulation. In Asian American Psychological Association Convention, Aug 1985, Los Angeles, CA, US; The first author presented an earlier version of this article as an invited address at the aforementioned conference. (No. 1, p. 3). Educational Publishing Foundation.
Tadesse, B. and White, R., 2010. Cultural distance as a determinant of bilateral trade flows: do immigrants counter the effect of cultural differences?. Applied Economics Letters, 17(2), pp.147-152.
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