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Cultural Expectations In A Selection Of Texts

843 words - 3 pages

In every society that I know of, there are cultural expectations. Literature tends to follow the same expectations. We have had quite a few stories in this class where we focused on cultural expectations. Rip in "Rip Van Winkle," Editha and George in "Editha and Major Molineux in "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" are all victims of cultural expectations.

Let me start with "Rip Van Winkle." This story actually takes place in two different time periods. Before Rip fell asleep, he was living in the pre-colonial era of the United States. He was expected to work and take care of his family. "The great error in Rip's composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor." (943) He had no qualms about work its self but he just found himself doing work for others instead of supporting his own family. He would hunt and fish, assist a friend in any kind of work, and do all kinds of little jobs that other husbands did not want to do. "In a word, Rip was ready to attend to anybody's business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible." (943) A man was supposed to work his land to support his wife but Rip wanted no part in that. He and his wife would argue relentlessly, actually, she would yell and he would make some gestures but never argued back. After one of those arguments, Rip went out to hunt for squirrels; he fell asleep and woke up in the post colonial period. His cultural expectations form the pre-colonial ere were left there and he embraced his new cultural expectations. I cannot argue that he was a victim of cultural expectations; his new expectations consisted of sitting around telling stories and playing with the children. He was too old to tend his own field and there were no complaints about that.

Editha and George are two symbolic characters during the Spanish-American War. I feel that George is a victim of cultural expectations whereas Editha is influenced by it but she is not victimized. Editha is a proud member of society and she wants what every other woman wants, a strong husband who will fight for his country. She wants George to go and fight. She writes a letter telling...

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