Culture and Identity
February 17, 2012
“Culture is the highest level of identity,” Samuel P. Huntington states (par6). It is the broadest level of identification an individual can have with a collective. Collective in this jargon means an ethnic group or a religion. What does this mean? Is this an implication that the culture we have within us is not actually from us, but rather produced from the identity we have made in society? By using short stories influenced by culture one can analyze if such is the case.
First and foremost, what is this thing we call identity? According to Merriam-Webster’s online Dictionary, this is sameness of essential or generic character in different instances. This means that there is a likeness, a similarity amongst us. This is where culture takes its part in society. Culture allows us to have a likeness with each other. It is the backbone that keeps a people upright and it gives a sense of belonging. In the short story Blue Winds Dancing by Tom Whitecloud, we see the narrator having this internal conflict of belonging. The narrator, a Native Indian, finds himself in the White society-a place where everything about his culture is deemed as inferior, “It is terrible to have to feel inferior; to have to read reports of intelligence tests and learn that one’s race is behind. It is terrible to sit in class and hear men tell you that your people worship sticks of wood-that your gods are false. . .(Roberts, Zweig 277) .” Throughout the story a constant comparison is made between the White and Indian society and their corresponding cultures. The classification of the Indian’s culture as “low culture” as well as the physical and mental separation from his people has caused him to question it and therefore himself. There is a feeling of ambivalence in Whitecloud’s story. It is not a direct contrast of love and hate for example; rather, it resembles mixed feelings. Whilst among the whites,...