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Literary Analysis: Combining Culture And Tradition

2322 words - 10 pages

History is rich with culture and tradition. Culture and traditions greatly influence people’s behaviors, the way they perceive others, and the way they are perceived by others. Environment also plays into the development of culture and the decisions people make. Although each person has an individualized idea of what culture is and practices their own unique traditions, the fact remains true that every human being is subject to the effects of culture and tradition. Three classic authors accurately portray culture through setting and tradition in order to affect the reader’s view toward the characters and the authors themselves in Zora Neale Hurston’s “The Gilded Six-Bits”, Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”, and John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt: A Parable.
Zora Neale Hurston uses setting and tradition to further the reader’s understanding of African American culture and the characters in “The Gilded Six-Bits.” The setting in “The Gilded Six-Bits” is “a Negro yard around a Negro house in a Negro settlement...” (Hurston). By placing this story in an all-Negro settlement, Hurston emphasizes the importance of community and unity during a time of segregation and racial tension. This community, known as a “race colony,” was “one of the voluntarily segregated communities meant to empower its black citizens and prove to the surrounding white world that blacks were capable of self-government, independence, integrity, and indigenous forms of expression.” This aspect of the story gives the reader insight to the type of characters Missie May and Joe are. Because they live in an independent black community, it is obvious that they are self-respecting, hard working African Americans. Furthermore, the description of the happiness and hard work put into the house emphasizes the pride the couple takes in their home despite the small size of the interior. The great care Missie May and Joe show their home “suggests a wealth of love put there to cover up the shabbiness” (“Zora Neale Hurston: The Gilded Six-Bits”). This makes note of the deep pride African Americans took in their belongings during the 1930s because they were so thankful for what they had despite it being inferior to the white standards. The fact that Missie May and Joe live in poverty is the main aspect of their culture that effects the actions of the characters. Because Missie May never experienced anything but poverty, she was more easily tempted by the wealth of Otis D. Slemmons. “She was only bedding Slemmons, a seemingly rich business owner, because she wanted to get a golden coin” because she had never had one before and she knew her husband would like it also (“The Gilded Six-Bits: A Review”). Had Missie May never experienced the poverty that African Americans experience during the time between the end of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, she likely would have not cheated on her husband. Missie May’s actions cause the reader to wonder if money and wealth often negatively influenced the...

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