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The Place of Women and Feminism, Reaction Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1265

Reaction Paper

The rise of the modern world spawned profound systemic changes to western civilization and thus provides a fruitful site for the analysis of seemingly seismic cultural, social, political, and economic shifts that manifested as industrialization and modernization gained traction. In the various course texts studied therein, it is unequivocal that the threading theme is the demonstration of an inexact and unsteady relationship that humans have preserved and fortified in the context of modernity. Despite the fact that Americans time and again have articulated their profound appreciation of the advancements that modernity has wrought within the scientific, political, social, and economic arenas, it has nonetheless become quite clear that this progression vis-à-vis science, economics, and politics has underscored the necessity for politicians and laymen alike to become involved in this systemic transformation of both expense and obligation. Indeed, modernity has profoundly affected every facet of people’s lives such as their traditions, cultures, and identity. This development is discernible in the corpus of literature on this very topic, the majority of which this class has tackled, analyzed, and assessed during the class. It is essential that these potential changes become more transparent as time progresses and paradigm shifts take place that eventually will profoundly alter the fundamental structures, institutions, and mechanisms so that change takes place on a global level.

The complex processes undergirding modernity has resulted in various social groups of people to lack, lose, or weaken their traditions and/or cultures due to the ideology of homogeneity that constitutes the foundation of modernity. For example, in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Of Love and Other Demons, there is a well-defined and conspicuous chasm between traditions and culture. The character Sierva grew up in a non-religious culture that believed human emotion should never be repressed. Conversely, the culture Sierva was born into views any display of gregarious behavior or deep emotion as suspect, even rendering it deviant to a certain extent. Because of this unfortunate reality, Sierva is forced to live outside of the two cultures and religions and never gain a sense of self or develop a coherent identity. As a white girl raised by subaltern slaves, all Sierva knows pertains to the traditions and beliefs conveyed by the slaves women who cared for her, which ultimately renders her an outcast at the behest of her own people. It must be noted, however, that being white does not necessarily allow her to be considered a part of the slave family that raised her. Marquez intertwines various aspects and trends that were discernible during the colonial times in order to imbue authenticity into his fictional narrative. Ultimately, Sierva retained a liminal identity and resided in a society in which she had to embrace a double consciousness as she venerated the slaves for raising her while also echewing subaltern peoples due to the fact that she was rendered white in a nation was constructed upon the ideology of whiteness.  The experiences she had growing up in a dyadic fashion both with her slave family and the other with her dysfunctional and noble family, ironically paved the way to her eventual demise.

One of the most significant macro processes that undergirds modernity is that of colonialism and capitalism, which persisted on a global scale throughout the twentieth century. The objective of colonialism was to develop and humanize people according to the Church’s belief. However, in the processes of this change, many cultures were negatively impacted. Colonialism felt that anyone not practicing the prescribed religion was sub-human. Sierva was setup to fail by her parents, culture, religion, and ultimately modernity. “It is not that the girl is unfit for everything, it is that she is not of this world.” (44) This emphasizes her displacement between the two societies. Modernity, in the form of Colonialism, wanted Sierva to fit into a certain role. Unfortunately, she was not able to do this because she was unsure who she was to begin with and not one-hundred percent either the people that she had grown up under or her blood relatives. Sierva will therefore lack a tradition or culture because no one is able to claim her and help her to develop herself within one.

Furthering the idea that modernity stands as an obstacle in upholding traditions and culture is my agreement with Chinua Achebe when he says that this is the result of serious change. Forced change may bring about many things that people who have no control over it would rather not endure and we see this in one of his novels.

Achebe named his novel Things Fall Apart after a line from William Butler Yeats’ poem The Second Coming. In his poem, Yeats says, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,” and in this poem, he is referencing both loss of culture and the aftermath of change. Achebe relates this line to his novel as a way to describe the aftermath of British colonialism in Nigeria and the fall of Okonkwo as a leader of the Umuofia clan and the fall of the Igbo society in Nigeria.

Yeats’ The Second Coming and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart were both written in response to major political and world changes. Yeats’ poem references the apocalypse, and was written after the first World War. Achebe’s focus on change and loss of culture is rooted in British colonialism, and Yeats wrote from his viewpoint of displaced identity and culture, as well. In Yeats and Achebe, A.G. Stock says that,

No civilization can either remain static or evolve forever towards a more inclusive perfection. It must both collapse from within and be overwhelmed from without, and what replaces it will appear; most opposite to itself, being built from all that it overlooked or under-valued” (259).

Both works describe the internal struggle of the old and the new, and how to exist in a changing society, whether that change is good or bad. They describe that change is powerful and moving and that nothing can be without it.

By reading and understanding The Second Coming, we can see the foreshadowing of events to come in Things Fall Apart. Yeats’ poem is about the unavoidable aspects of change and the turning of time. Yeats is referencing the apocalypse in his poem, whereas Achebe uses this title to foreshadow the fall of Okonkwo and the inevitable change of the Igbo society brought about by the English colonialists. In chapter twenty of Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo and Obierika are discussing the white man’s invasion and the changes that are happening to the tribe, and in response, Okonkwo says,

The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has a put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

Essentially, time cannot be stopped, and change is a result of time moving forward.

As we can see from these examples, modernity has brought an anxious sense of loss for some as it contrasts “tradition”. One line from Of Love and Other Demons is, “Do not allow me to forget you.” With the future being so open due to advances that have been made, it is important that humankind realize how modernity has and can have an affect on their individual lives and reflect on ways that they can keep their self identity and values intact.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart: A Norton Critical Edition. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, 2009.

Rquez, Gabriel, and Edith Grossman. Of Love and Other Demons. New York: Knopf :, 1995. Print.

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