Different Cultures, Different Essay

966 words - 4 pages


Every society and culture has different ways of interpreting and defining occurrences by the way their own culture or society functions. “A society’s culture, consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its members”(Geertz 242). The rituals, customs, ethics and morals that are attributed to the cultures have caused these differences. To understand how the people of one culture interpret a situation or event, one must evaluate the attributes that a culture has. The criteria that an event is based on changes as one culture applies their own ideas to the given situation. Heroism and violation are two concepts that are easily misinterpreted depending on culture’s ideals. Since cultures have different attributes it is impossible for two cultures to exist and share a view of a situation or event.
     Heroism and violation are two concepts that are addressed by Geertz in his relating of Ryle’s story of the sheep raid. From the different cultures involved, two different interpretations are concluded. To the protagonist, Cohen, and the perpetrators of the crime, his raid on the Berbers was seen as heroism. Cohen risking his life for his redemption of crime that was committed against him is viewed as heroic. On the contrary, when Cohen returned to his French counterparts, they saw his redemption as a violation of the Berbers, and accused him of being a spy:

Here, in our text, such sorting would begin with distinguishing the
three unlike frames of interpretation ingredient in the situation,
Jewish, Berber, and French, and would then move on to show how (and
why) at that time, in that place, their copresence produced a
situation in which systematic misunderstanding reduced traditional
form to social farce. What tripped Cohen up, and with him the whole,
ancient pattern of social and economic relationships within which he
functioned, was a confusion of tongues. (Geertz 241)

Geertz explains that the reason for the confusion, and the different interpretations of the event that took place is a simple misunderstanding that when took place in clashing cultures with different views, both striving to claim the situation in their own contexts became a somewhat humorous event. This conflict between cultures causes a view of a person to change depending on which point of reference they are being seen from.
     In Ernest Hemingway’s “Indian Camp,” the conflict between cultures again cause a difference of views of the father. The concept of heroism and violation becomes the issue of conflict. The father or doctor is considered a hero or a violator of the Indian woman depending on the culture viewing him. From the father’s culture, he is viewed as a hero for his actions at the Indian camp. His actions are viewed as heroic under the circumstances of his procedure. Because of the culture of...

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