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Short Story Project: Cultural Criticism

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Haley Reburn

on 28 May 2013

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Transcript of Short Story Project: Cultural Criticism

Short Stories:
Cultural Criticism Haley Reburn Guests of the Nation Never Summary Cultural Look Themes Cultural Criticism Themes Cultural Look Summary Summary Cultural Look Themes Flight Patterns "Flight Patterns" follows a Native American man named William living in Seattle in 2003. Most of the story takes place in a taxi on the way to the airport for a business trip. William discusses race and prejudice with his Ethiopian driver. They tell each other about their families and what they have overcome to reach the points they are at. The driver, Fekadu, tells of his service in the Ethiopian army and his struggles with violent wartime experiences. Fekadu claims that he eventually defected from Ethiopia to the U.S. and has not seen his family since. Both he and William have faced discrimination in America based on the color of their skin, especially after the events of 9/11. Both have also faced the decision to leave their homes and families. Themes of this story include:
-Race relations and discrimination
-Gender relations This story takes place during the Irish struggle for independence from England. Two Irish soldiers are ordered to watch over two English captives, and after living together, playing cards every night, and engaging in frequent lively yet friendly debates, the four grow to know each other well and eventually become close friends. When the Irish soldiers are ordered to execute the Englishmen, they face a difficult choice between duty and friendship. Themes present in this story include:
-Friendship "Guests of the Nation" was published years after the
Irish struggle for Independence. During this time, the Irish generally had negative attitudes toward the British. However, this story shows the opposing view of two soldiers who grew to know and like their British captives. They are forced to decide at the end of the story between the pressure to side with their nation and turn against their friends, and the personal bond they have with the captives whom they no longer see as "British" or "enemies," but just as good people. Cultural criticism looks at the how social, political, and economic circumstances of a specific culture influence the works it produces. It considers race, class, and gender, often from the point of view of a specific group or minority.

French philosopher Michael Foucault and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu are credited with early ideas that contributed to the formation of the cultural school of literary criticism.

Cultural criticism changed the way people look at literature by drawing attention to the external influences of a work (time, place, outside circumstances), as opposed to the internal topics (plot, characters, language, etc.)

A cultural critic might ask:
How is this work consistent with its social context? How is it contradictory?
How does the work make certain groups seem superior or inferior?
How might different communities of readers interpret the work differently? "Never" serves to make a statement about the female role in society at its time. The main character feels as if she has no purpose in life; everything she does is simply done to "fill up time." Among high-status English families in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women and girls often had small roles in the family and shared this feeling of emptiness. Themes of this story include:
-Gender roles
-Finding a purpose in life By Sherman Alexie By H.E. Bates By Frank O'Connor This story is told from the point of view of a young girl
living in her family's home outside of London. She feels trapped in her unchanging daily routine and longs to escape. As she begins to consider running away to London, it becomes clear that she has packed her suitcase and checked the train schedule on many previous occasions. Each time, however, something has held her back. Each time she prepares to run away, she hesitates and tells herself that next time will be the one when she finally leaves for good, and she continues to fail in actually reaching this goal. "Flight Patterns" focuses on racial views in America during 2003. The story gives the point of view of two different minority groups and shows how they view the discomfort among white Americans with anyone of an ambiguous ethnicity after 9/11.The nation is still under stress and fear after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and William is subject to suspicion in airports and other high-security areas. A Native American born and raised in the U.S., he finds these suspicions insulting but also somewhat amusing. Fekadu shares his negative attitude, but states that people most often mistake him for being black, and judge him in other regards as a "crackhead addict on welfare."
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