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Similarities In A Different Worlds Essay

1707 words - 7 pages

How does a person’s culture or the stereotypes they face during their lifetime impact their future dreams or desires? Through the writings of Sherman Alexie and Bobbie Ann Mason, the influences their cultures impressed upon them are observed. Author, poet, and screenwriter Alexie writes in his essay from 1997 “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” of life on the Spokane Indian Reservation and describes how he used his love of books to not only escape the biases of his own race but to succeed in the non-Indian world (47). In her 1999 excerpt “Being Country” from her book Clear Springs: A Memoir, author and essayist Mason explores life on her family’s farm in rural Kentucky. She writes of a lifestyle that revolved around the food they grew but was also dependent upon the vagaries of nature for their existence. Moreover, she explains how this way of life caused her to dream of a different life. (106-107). Even though Alexie and Mason came from diverse cultures, they both grew up in stereotypical societies and shared an exposure to similar outside influences that further shaped their personal identities throughout their young lives. As a result, they both envisioned futures that aspired to be different from the customs and beliefs found in their everyday lives.
As the backgrounds of these two authors are examined, their economic differences are clearly seen while their similarities become apparent through the stereotypes of their cultures. Alexie describes a childhood where poverty was a way of life. He says, “We were poor by most standards, but one of my parents usually managed to find some minimum-wage job or another, which made us middle-class by reservation standards….We lived on a combination of irregular paychecks, hope, fear, and government surplus food” (45). On the other hand, Mason writes, “We weren’t poor, but we were country” (106). She also admits, “…I was acutely conscious of being country. I felt inferior to people in town…” (106). While both Alexie and Mason are outspoken about the everyday aspects of their young lives and the emotions they experienced in the midst of hardship, it becomes understandable the impacts these psychological and environmental factors contributed toward their future ambitions. Furthermore, the two authors were affected by more than their families’ financial or social backgrounds. The cultures they both lived in were filled with constraints and challenges. In fact, Alexie lived in a society where prejudice was common and where being a smart Indian was regarded as a threat by both Indians and non-Indians (46). He explains, “We were Indian children who were expected to be stupid.” (46). The prejudices Alexie faced growing up furthered his resolve to take control of his education and prove that he could break barriers in a world that attempted to hold him captive. Mason truly didn’t want a life reliant on nature for her survival or as unremitting in the monotony her grandmother and mother faced and...

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