The culture of any country reflects on its values, traditions, beliefs, customs, and standards while the cultural encounter is a clash between the two cultures that might happen when one culture is dominant over the other (C Kosmitzki , 2009). In this study, two short stories, In Cuba, I was a German shepherd and Bella makes life are going to be discussed to reflect on the cultural encounter theme and to get an insight about how living in different countries with different culture has impacted the characters of both stories.
The concept of cultural encounter in the short story: Bella makes life reflects on the two main cultural differences: Jamaican and American culture, both cultures having different traditions, beliefs, and values. The first encounter that is highlighted in this story is that in Jamaican culture, women are dominated by men as they have to take the main role in the family and women to have the second role that is, taking care of children. While in American culture both men and women are treated equally so the story shows opposite culture of Jamaica as it happened due to the change in the personality of Bella and lead to the cultural encounter and clash in this story(DP, 2011).
While in the story: In Cuba, I was a German shepherd, a Cuban exile is described who is living his life in Miami, Maximo jokes about the Americans to overcome his emotions. The story reflects on the cultural encounter in a way that how Maximo finds it difficult and hard to live a different life on a land away from his homeland and what obstacles and discrimination he has to face while trying to fix himself in a new country with different values and culture.
While the author of Bella makes life, Lorna is also aware of the cultural encounter as she was born in a multi-cultured family and was raised in Jamaica and got her education of New-York, so she was exposed to many cultures and knew the cultural encounter that the foreigners has the face while living in another country. So is the reason she has beautifully portray the cultural encounter concept through her story and how cultural changes can transform a person and how by the end of the story lost her own identity being the victim of the cultural encounter (Tuleja & Elizabeth A, 2017).
The author of both stories are aware of the cultural encounter, as the author of In Cuba I was a German shepherd, Ana Menéndez is a daughter of a Cuban exile who moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s so she knew that how the foreigners/exiles were being treated in America back in time so she served the journalism for six years and wrote almost six books regarding the cultural encounter. So is the reason in this story she beautifully described the hope and the disappointments of the post-revolutionary Castro Cuba and the conflict between the reality and the dreams of two culture (M Socolovsky , 2005).
In the story, In Cuba I was a German shepherd, the protagonist, Maximo was aware of the cultural encounter theme as he has spent a long span of his life in Cuba and now in Miami, he is being treated like an animal by the Americans. Further, as being a foreigner, he was not able to procure a job in Miami while back in Cuba he was a professor and was living a good life (M Socolovsky , 2005).
While in the story, Bella makes life: the main characters are Bella, Joseph, and Joe. From the beginning of the story, it was cleared that the characters were aware of the cultural encounter as Joseph has seen a change in her wife that happened due to the cultural difference and she became more materialistic and who bold she became after spending a year in New York. While Bella herself was not aware of this cultural encounter and her changing personality as she was too busy making money. Joseph knew that Bella had changed due to the differences in cultures of both Jamaica and America as in America men and women are treated equally but in Jamaican culture, men are dominated and Bella is trying to be dominant women just like the American culture just to fit herself in America(Wang, et al., 2014).
In the story: Bella makes life, money is used to highlight the cultural difference in a way that after returning from New York, Bella, Jamaican women had changed a lot as she becomesa materialistic woman than a devoted wife. This shows the cultural encounter that Bella represents in the American culture, as she went there to make a good life for her family but she ends up ruining her own life and family. Further, this cultural encounter has also mixed the role of men and women in this story. This change in the behavior of Bella happened due to the cultural difference she faced while living in America as being a Jamaican. Materialism has changed Bella and she started to prioritize wealth over the family and its happiness. Further, the story depicts that due to the cultural differences people change and end up losing their loved ones, like Bella who lost her family in this story.
While in the story: In Cuba, I was a German shepherd, money is treated to highlight the cultural encounter in a way that it was hard and difficult for Maximo and his wife to make money while living in America as being a former he was unable to procure a job. While in Cuba, Maximo was a professor at a well-reputed organization but here in Miami his university credentials and his Spanish is of no use and they then opened a restaurant. After the five years of selling the restaurantand the death of his wife Rosa, Maximo is still stuck by it and became dizzy and lost (L Johannessen, 2010).
In the story: Bella makes life, anger is used to highlight the cultural encounter in way that Joseph finds the changing behaviour of Bella irritating and at times he could not hold on his tongue and speak out his mind but all of his concerns go in vain as it was quite difficult for him to convince Bella and to change her materialistic attitude. Further, the western luxurious life has taken the best of Bella and she started to impose some of the western culture and mentality on her children so this burst anger in Joseph, while Bella thinks that his husband is outdated and he is jealous of her success.
While in the story: In Cuba, I was a German shepherd, anger is used to highlight the cultural encounter in a scene when a tour group visited the domino park where they used to play, and he listened to the tour guy who was demeaning the description of Cuban culture and the men. The author described his anger in a way that he wants to growl like an animal and hide himself behind a fence and he couldn’t contain his anger so he made a lunge at the fence and stopped denying the fact that he is well served in America and was fed up f being treated like an animal by Americans.
The above discussion has shown that each character in both stories has faced the cultural encounter in a different way and they tried to resolve it differently but it is also clear from both stories that there is no solution to the cultural encounter that they faced while living in different countries. And as per the Margalit and Raz’s argument, they said that the wellbeing of an individual is merely dependent on their cultural group, so if people are taken away from the cultural group then it is difficult for them to live their life the way they were living before. Further, they argued that people can adopt a new culture and can move to the new country but the whole process is very painful and slow for them. So the above discussion of the two characters of the short story has made it clear that adopting a new culture was hard and painful for both the protagonist of the story.
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