Social Norms Essay

1066 words - 5 pages

How do people like to eat ramen? Do they like to eat with sounds or eating quietly? It means that ramen is delicious when people are eating it with sounds in Japan. While in china, eating food with sounds means rudeness. This interesting example shows that there are huge differences among kinds of social norms. In the film Witness, director Peter Weir explores the distinct and huge cultural conflicts between the old Amish society of western Pennsylvania and the modern American world of crime and violence. The main character, Philadelphia police detective John Book, is forced into hiding by a group of corrupt fellow officers looking for a little Amish boy, Samuel. The boy witnesses a ...view middle of the document...

Book fixes birdhouse and makes toys to Samuel, which represents his is willing to earn respect and love from Rachel and her family. The social relations between Book and the Amish are started from his clothing. Book asks that “How do I look? I mean, do I look Amish?” Rachel smiles and says, “You look plain.” And Rachel helps Book keep his handgun, which is the symbol of violence in Amish culture. Book becomes like one of the true Amish. There are other ways that Book tries to adopt Amish life style. For instance, getting up early to do the milking. Rising the barn helps Book earn good impression from Rachel. At the same time, he takes on some of the Amish social norms in the Amish sense. He fixes a nice wooden birdhouse and proves himself a good farmhand. The whole community works in a collective project that is rarely found outside there society.
Secondly, different social norms could make people feel embarrassed and awkward. In the film Witness, the cultural compares are the most distinct factor of the story. These Amish live in 1985 as if it were 1800. There are no telephones, TV, radio, and even cars. Book and his modern world are full of violence, crimes and corruption, but the Amish world of Rachel and her family is peaceful, kindly and profoundly devout. Her son Samuel adores this strong, brave policeman, but Rachel and her father are alarmed at the idea of having a gun in their house. When Book goes to the nearby small town to make a call to his sidekick and dresses as a real Amish farmer, a local visitor mocks Daniel for fight, Book becomes angry and beats that guy. When Book moves to interpose against those locals, Eli Lapp says, “It’s not our way.” However, Book says, “It’s my way.” Which represents the huge difference between violence and peace. Culture differences are represented with the move of camera, when Book fixes that radio in the car, he is surprised and invites Rachel to dance, while Rachel moves awkwardly and asks, “what are you doing?” Both of Book and Rachel have a lack of understanding of...

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