The Influence Of Westernization Essay

1388 words - 6 pages

In the novel the WINDFLOWER, there is a presence of two different cultures the western culture and the Eskimo culture. In history, we as the readers know that aboriginals were cruelly treated and the western people tried to assimilate their culture. Interestingly, the author, Gabrielle Roy decided to portray a part of the Eskimos in the novel, WINDFLOWER, as assimilated to create conflict with minor characters. The more notable characters that have been shown to defy the western cultures was only Uncle Ian and Winnie. Even still, many of the Eskimos are shown to believe that the western culture was the more dominant belief. The effect this had was that the interactions shown with the minor characters and Elsa.
To touch on how the Eskimos thought that the white culture was superior and many had already assimilated is shown in a subtle touch provided by the first chapter that showed how accepting the Eskimos were to the close proximity of the whites. In page 6, the author writes, "Nowadays they wore short dresses of flowered cotton, over which floated sweaters as shapeless as sacks", The effect of something as petty as clothing may not seem like much but it contains a larger effect than one would expect. These clothes originated from western culture, if the whites were not present the Eskimos would have been perfectly content with what they had "parkas and pretty sealskin boots of former times"(Pg 6). This can infer that the Eskimos already had a mindset of the western power and how their wares were of much better quality than what they could manage. The implications of this is sever and the effect to growing up in such close proximity with western culture made it so that the children of the Eskimos were already accepting of the new ways that westerners provide and would readily discard their own culture and traditions. This is assimilation and the effect is shown on the main character, Elsa who, while raising her baby seems to be lost to whether to stay to her own culture or move towards the western culture. Reading the novel you find that even if at times Elsa decides to raise her child with an Eskimo background she has an unshakable bias towards the western culture.
This provides the possible connotation in spending in the story of WINDFLOWER is that of westernization. We are shown through the thoughts of Elsa that the influence of spending is strong but it is backed by the materialism of a certain character, Madame Beaulieu, who provides Elsa the thought that love is provided by the act of giving objects. "Her life was being used up buying him clothes as costly and toys as charming as those possessed by the children of Madame Beaulieu"(Pg 42). A motif of this story should be Madame Beaulieu herself as she is often referenced and used as a comparison whenever Elsa deals with Jimmy. The importance of this motif is that Elsa spends a majority of her time in the care of Madame Beaulieu, and so she cannot but help to pick up some of habits of...

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