Man’s Ability To Treat Humans Like Animals
It is a vivid fact that the feelings of cruelty, discrimination and racial distribution are embedded well in to human nature since its very inception. This world depicts several cases where humans treat other humans like animals and ignore their right of living peacefully and according to their own will. This article highlights the work of several writers who have depicted the different ways in which humans have been treated brutally by other humans. Majority of the cases deal with racial discrimination and poverty-based cruelty issues encountered by humans. The article presents an in depth analysis of the works of seven different writers and how their works represent the ill treatment encountered by the human race.
Charles Chestnutt’s “Po Sandy” and its Linkage to Human Cruelty
“Po’ Sandy” written by Charles Chestnutt is basically the story of Sandy, who is made the slave of his master’s relatives, due to which he is unable to maintain the relationship with his wife. His wife was a conjurer who agrees in transforming him into a pine tree. This transformation resulted in several problems for Sandy, yet his wife did it so that he cannot again be forced to leave his home. Unfortunately, his wife is called away for a short time period and during that Sandy is chopped down. Sandy is chopped down into pieces for making the new kitchen of his master, upon the return of his wife. The kitchen was converted into an old schoolhouse later on. Sandy’s wife was shocked upon his husband’s death and died on the floor of that schoolhouse out of her husband’s grief. Annie was so much disturbed by this story that she refused to use any old lumber from the schoolhouse (Chestnutt 50).
In this story, Chestnutt is basically satirizing the whites. The story portrays slavery as a crucible that placed black people under almost unbearable psychological pressures, eliciting from them tenacity of purpose, firmness of character, and imaginative ingenuity in order to preserve themselves, their families, and their community. Chestnutt depicted the fact that blacks can easily attain their own motives by simply beguiling the whites. Thus Chesnutt portrays blacks possessing greater intelligence than many at the time accepted. Thus, the story “Po Sandy” relates to the domain of cruelty toward humanity in the sense that black Africans were actually made slaves of the white Americans in ancient times, who treated them badly. The story depicts the harshness and brutality encountered by the black Africans during the tenure of their slavery.
Criticism on the Works of Charles Chestnutt
Majority of the works of Charles Chesnutt revolved around racial issues. His works encountered great deal of criticism as they revolved mainly around social controversial issues of that time. One of his initial masterpieces that became popular was, “The Goophered Grapevine” is a depiction of the African slave culture to the white Americans and comprised of tales about black hoodoo practices and beliefs. “The Conjure Woman” is another writing masterpiece by Charles Chestnutt which described the struggle between cruel slaveholders, and the ill-natured and witty clever slaves. Chestnutt’s stories like “Sis’ Becky’s Pickaninny,” “Mars Jeems’s Nightmare,” and “Hot-Foot Hannibal” depict the way in which slaves are prone to the will and power of their masters only (Stephin 20). “The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line” is another work of Charles Chestnutt which comprise of nine stories based on the social issue of miscegenation in America. Not only this, the book also highlighted issues like segregation, mob violence and white racism. The book encountered a harsh criticism as many reviewers were bothered by Chesnutt’s excessive concentration on issues such as segregation and miscegenation.
Chestnutt’s novel entitled “The House Behind the Cedars” presented the issue of racial identity. Chesnutt advocated the right of mixed races to be accepted on equal terms with whites through his commendable writings. Charles in his second novel used the opportunity to address pressing racial issues, which was entitled “The Marrow of Tradition.” This novel was based on the Wilmington, N.C., race riot of 1898.
He was the first writer to make the broad range of African-American as he highlighted each and every issue and problem pertaining to the American color line which was essentially in need of literary attention.
Lisa See’s “Snow Flower and The Secret Fan”
“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” is a novel set which presents the tale of two laotong, or sworn sisters with a bond stronger than marriage, begins in the girls’ childhood as they experience foot binding together. The two are extremely close and share a special kind of Chinese writing called Nu Shu, which is actually a language created by women and for only women. Lily belongs to a low class family but she is able to marry much higher than her social station into a rich family as her feet are considered small and beautiful. After marriage, Lily is blessed with three sons and one daughter, which is considered particularly auspicious for women in China at that time. On the other side, Snow Flower, was born with a silver spoon in hand as she belonged to wealthy parents but unfortunately she married a butcher, which is socially considered a very poor position. Her life was made miserable by her husband as she was beaten a lot by him and she lost a couple of her children as well. Lily at one point becomes suspicious of Snow Flower. She thought that Snow Flower had betrayed her trust and she thus told her sisterly secrets to a group of women. This ultimately resulted in destroying the woman’s face, or image in public which was regarded as a horrifying thing in Chinese society, specially. Towards the end of the story Lily tended to Snow Flower as she died (Ho 200).
This book relates to the domain of cruelty of humans towards each other as it presents the detailed treatment of the suffering which Lily and Snow Flower experienced in their laotong relationship. Lily’s thirst for love and her inability to forgive what she considers to be acts of betrayal cause her to immensely harm many people. Snow Flower encountered the greatest loss due to Lily’s act of betrayal. Believing that Snow Flower has not been true to her, Lily betrays her by sharing all her private secrets to a group of women, virtually destroying Snow Flower’s reputation.
Several aspects of human suffering are depicted well in this novel by Lisa See. The novel portrays well the physical and psychological pain of foot binding and the sufferings encountered by women of that time who were treated as a property. The cruel practice of foot binding begins in girls at the age of 8 years and requires six-month for completion. The process requires the breaking up of all the bones in the toes. The process resulted in taking the lives of ten per cent of the girls who underwent this cruel and harsh process. The purpose of foot binding is to make the girls more attractive as marriage partners and as submissive daughter-in-law. The novel depicts the very degrading way in which women were treated in China in this period. The Chinese women giving birth to female children were considered worthless and rubbish in the society at that time. In this novel of Lisa See, when Snow Flower’s husband beat her violently in one brutal scene, she miscarried her child. Her husband justified his action after the fact by saying that the child would probably had been a girl. Thus, this novel by Lisa See presents several acts of brutality and cruelty towards women prevalent specifically in the Chinese society in those times.
Criticism on the works of Lisa See
The popular mystery collection of Lisa See comprises of works “Flower Net,” “The Interior,” and “Dragon Bones.” Lisa See’s novels “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and “Peony in Love” focus on the lives of Chinese women in the 19th and 17th centuries respectively. “Peony in Love” and “Shanghai Girls” revolve around the potent bonds of mother love, romantic love, and love of country. “Peony in Love” portrays the bonds of female friendship, the power of words, the desire that all women have to be heard. Lisa See amicable highlights the emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death.
Tupac Shakur’s “The Rose that Grew from Concrete”
“The Rose that Grew from Concrete” is a collection of poems written by Tupac Shakur which are compiled in the form of a book. These poems focus on mature topics ranging from sex, drugs, violence to political views and death. The poems in the book have a common theme revolving around having ambitions and goals and reaching them despite the unfavorable and harsh circumstances. This ultimately manifests the core goal of keeping hope even in the darkest situations. The book provides a glimpse into Tupac Shakur’s enigmatic life and its intense contradictions. The poems are present in his own hand writing in the book and express his message of hope and enlightenment even in the toughest and darkest situations of life.
Apart from central theme of keeping hope, the implied storyline of “The Rose that Grew from Concrete” is about how Tupac rose from his hazardous surroundings by following his ambitions and became successful in the rap industry. This involves simple analogy, where the word “rose” in the title represents Tupac as a person and the word “concrete” signifies the unforgiving streets of Marin City. Tupac has presented the experience of his own life and depicted the ways by which he surmounted his dangerous environment and kept on following his dreams consistently, which ultimately bestowed him with fame and success (McQuillar & Johnson 75). This is analogous to how a flower grew out of the cold and non-nurturing concrete by breathing air, and eventually blooms and blossoms well in the garden.
Thus, the core theme depicted in “The Rose That Grew from Concrete” is the fact that people surrounded by troubles and failures can still live, succeed and win up laurels in life. The book is portraying an exact reflection of struggle for success despite the harsh circumstances. People belonging to broken homes and possessing failed pasts or other tough backgrounds and having experiences of catastrophic situations have the ability to succeed and make their lives beautiful through their own will power and positive attitude. So, this work of Tupac Shakur relates to the domain of human cruelty in the sense that despite the harsh conditions faced by Shakur he managed to become a rap artist and earn a special place in the world.
Criticism on Tupac Shaker’s Works
Tupac Shakur was a rap artist, and thus the themes of most of Tupac’s songs focus on the violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, other social problems, and conflicts with other rappers during the East Coast — West Coast hip hop rivalry. During the initial days of his career, Shakur was only a dancer who belonged to an alternative hip hop group named Digital Underground and used to perform on the roads. Shakur uses violent language and vivid imagery in his poetry to portray the degree one’s patience and endurance towards the hardships of life when one spends life in the ghettos of America.
Tupac’s poems depict his honesty which reveals the degree of his true intentions and the beliefs held so strongly in his passionate heart. “Sometimes I Cry” and “Life Through my Eyes” are his two more famous and touching poems which explain Tupac’s loneliness and show his struggles through poverty. In other poems he clearly highlights love, racism, liberty, heartaches and goals. Poems such as “and Tomorrow” and “Still I Wait for Dawn” explain the need to survive for a better day and teaches the fact that humanity as a whole suffers if anyone starves.
Janet Campbell Hale’s “The Jailing of Cecelia Capture”
The novel entitled The Jailing of Cecelia Capture written by Janet Cambell Hale recounts the life story of an American girl, who is thirty years old and who has been arrested for driving rashly in a drunken state. The American women named Cecelia muses her past during the time spent by her in prison. She is haunted by the awful memories pertaining to her reservation childhood and unresolved relationships existing between her mother and father. Despite having a reputable educational background and despite getting married to a white man, Cecelia is perplexed with all her relationships in life and the story veers from poignancy to anger and back. Her troubles are compounded by ethnicity and class, and they directly question the fabled solidarity of the Western family, especially the Native American family. Not only this, the novel also focusses on the myth of women’s relative freedom in the West. Hale’s core themes pertaining to this novel were living on welfare, racism, single-motherhood, discrimination against women in the society, disrupted families, and struggle for the attainment of identity. The author beautifully examines the intersections between race, religion and gender and portrays the character of an independent woman in a realistic and appreciable way. So this novel relates to the topic of this article in the sense that it addresses the racial issues and gender discrimination faced on part of women of the American society (Swetnam).
Criticism on the Works of Janet Campbell Hale
The writings of Janet Campbell Hale explore issues relating to the identity of Native American and discuss issues like poverty, abuse, and the condition of women in society. She has written a non-fiction book entitled “Bloodlines – Odyssey of a Native Daughter” which includes a discussion of the Native American experience as well as stories from her own life. “An Owl’s Song” is also a powerful touching story narrating the experience of an Indian boy’s struggle to survive in an environment which was full of hardships making it difficult for the boy to survive well. He thus leaves his native land but then he encounters hatred and hostility that are increasingly difficult to cope with in the American society.
“Women on the Run” is another writing master piece by Janet Campbell Hale’s spare which is an honest writing and unique realism reflecting the difficulties of the women’s lives. It comprises of six stories focusing on the transition of cultural roots and a loss of sense of community. It explains the problems of women who find themselves involved in one night ultimately leading them towards pregnancy in an era preceding abortion, substance abuse or gambling. These problems resulted due to the harsh conditions of poverty and the bitter rejection felt by the aged in a society, which no longer respected extended family ties of women (Stromberg 103).
Oe Kenzaburo’s “Prize Stock”
“Prize Stock” written by the Japanese writer Oe Kenzaburo is basically a brilliant story portraying the concept of dehumanization and the corrosive power of war. In “Prize Stock” Oe Kenzaburo portrays a sense of freedom which can be attained despite barriers, although short-lived. The story is plotted in a primitive, confined village cut off from the outside world by flooding and is a place where children are exposed to violence and betrayal. During World War II, the village captured a black POW and the villagers decided to keep him locked up in town until the prefecture police or the army can do something with him. The boy protagonist nicknamed Frog as well as the other children of the village were fascinated by the idea of rearing the black POW until the authorities decide upon the prisoner’s fate. Oe kenzaburo has tried to portray through this story the fact that just as the soldier is treated like an animal in the village, the villagers are treated like filthy animals by the townspeople and the higher authority. Oe projected the fact that the village itself is permeated with smells and the air of animals and animalistic conduct. Towards the end of the story, the powerless soldier at the bottom of the power structure challenges the village by holding Frog as a hostage. The death of the soldier, along with the father’s crushing of the boy’s hand, emphasizes a world of violence and meaningless death — the battlefield per se. The story thus significantly relates to man’s ability of treating human’s like animals, as the people of towns and cities maltreat the villagers and consider them as worthless animals.
The story signifies sense of freedom as the soldier had ultimately freed the children from their daily lives, and the children had freed the soldier from his prison. Oe’s story is depicts the traditions and ways by which power is dispersed in a Japanese village community. The presence of a black soldier who is held as a prisoner of war puts nearly all of the villagers’ power differentials into play. Oe kenzaburo has basically presented an illusion of the power structure of Imperial Japan by presenting a layered power structure in the story “Prize Stock” which is based hierarchically on the village, the town. In the Imperial power system in Japan the divine emperor is supported by military officers, towns-people, and village adults. Power is exercised and resisted in a multiplicity of force relations through the capture of the enemy. Oe’s insertion of an African-American soldier as a prisoner of war also de-familiarizes Japan’s propaganda about the war protecting Asia from White supremacy (Mackay 143).
Criticism on the Writings of Oe Kenzaburo
The works of Oe Kenzaburo revolve around certain core aspects of life which usually pertain to victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the struggles of the people of Okinawa, the challenges of the disabled, and the discipline of the scholarly life. The initial works of Oe Kenzaburo focused on the chaos of the post-war Japan of his childhood (Esposito 468).
Three of his most famous works namely “A Personal Matter,” “Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids,” and “Prize Stock” showcases his immense talent and uses the notion of freedom inside incarceration. The common feature shared by all these three literary works of Oe is the sense of freedom that the characters feel comes crashing down instantaneously. His works are also strongly influenced by French and American literature and literary theory. His works deal with political, social and philosophical issues including nuclear weapons, nuclear power, existentialism and social non-conformism.
Dorothy West’s “The Living is Easy”
Dorothy West’s novel entitled “The Living is Easy” indicts black society artificially modeled on false white values and revolves around issues pertaining to racial denial and class elitism. The novel basically addresses the life of middle class black Americans residing in Boston during the time of First World War. Cleo is the central character of this novel, who is born in the south and is the eldest among all her sisters. She is has the habit of making herself appear superior in the society by degrading other and finding out unnecessary faults in them or their personalities. Cleo lives in a whimsical world where she desires to live a life like the whites. Her whims and wishes make her devoid of the feeling of consideration towards the welfare of her fellow blacks. She even cheats her own husband by asking him to pay more rent than actually required by the landlord in Boston and the difference amount was actually pocketed by her.
Dorothy West has taught African -Americans the lesson through her commendable writings that appropriate changes in the social attitudes of the people can act as a significant weapon for the blacks to fight for their freedom against the whites, and this weapon of positive and appropriate thinking can lead them towards more success. The blacks need to cooperate well with each other in order to prosper well in the society and ignore all societal class differences. She believed that if black people irrespective of their financial status, agree at cooperating with each other then they could easily fight for their legislative rights, which would be instrumental in changing the attitude of the whites against them (Sharon 100).
The novel “Living is Easy” relates to humanity in the sense that it focusses on racial denial. The privileged Black Americans who are able to live middle- class life developed racial denial too. They denied the fact that they were blacks regardless of their wealthy status. Majority of the affluent and wealthy black people residing in Dorothy’s era imitated the whites and always considered their own black fellows and their inherited traditions as worthless and outdated. Thus the core lesson taught in the writing of Dorothy West revolves around focusing on the importance of the blacks to support and cooperate with each other and refrain them from imitating white man’s way of life.
Criticism on the Works of Dorothy West
Majority of the works of Dorothy West focus on racial discrimination and racial denial by the black people. One of her famous writings entitled “The Typewriter” portrays the story of an unhappy black man who lives through his daughter’s typed stories. Some of her other important stories include “An Unimportant Man” and “Mammy” which are also about people who cannot escape from a confining existence. “Hanna Byde” is another story of a suicidal pregnant woman; and “Prologue to Life” is the story revolving around a woman whose devotion to motherhood shuts out her husband. Her novel “The Living Is Easy” criticizes the lifestyles of the black middle class by portraying the character of Cleo Judson, who struggles with her own identity in a social milieu which imitates the traditions and lifestyles followed by the whites (Griffin 100).
West has encountered a great deal of mixed reactions in response to her work and attitudes toward issues of race. Her stories are not based on any sort of interracial conflict. They revolve around the rights essentially needed for people’s life, and obstacles encountered by the people in attaining their due rights, dreams, desires and whimsical wishes. She teaches the lesson that class, race, caste and gender are pivotal in forming one’s personality and this lesson is depicted amicably with a sense of sheer subtlety in her writings.
Pat Mora’s “For Georgia Okeeffe”
“For Georgia Okeeffe” is a small poem written by Pat Mora in response to the artworks made by the famous artist Georgia Okeeffe. The poem describes the large canvasses of lush overpowering flowers which filled the still life with dynamic energy and erotic tension. On the other hand the cityscapes were testaments to subtle beauty within the most industrial circumstances. The rich texture of the clouds and sky were similar to earlier, more sensuous representations of flowers. But beneath these clouds one can see the bleached bones of animals long gone.
Criticism on the Works of Pat Mora
Pat Mora’s writings depict diversity in their nature as they are able to catering to different audiences comprising of adults and children both. Mora’s spare but evocative language spans several genres which include poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and are based on two languages as well, which are English meshed with Spanish words and phrases. The cultural diversity depicted in Pat Mora’s work has been acknowledged. The works of Pat Mora also focus on visual beauty of the Southwest as well as the theme of identity, especially that of woman and her connection with the various forms of the “earth mother.”
Mora is also considered as a regional writer as her works revolve immensely around elements extracted from South West. Mora also empowers Hispanics through a celebration of native traditions, which lie at the heart of their identity. Her book entitled “My Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults” is a collection of 15 years of work in which Mora addresses bi-cultural life and family from an adult perspective. The book portrays some universal experiences like the pleasures of eating pizza and mango, and the cultural significance pertaining to both these pleasures.
In a nutshell, this article has demonstrated how the works of all seven authors pertain to the brutality and cruelty depicted by humans for each other. Moreover, the article also presents a brief criticism on each author’s works and their linkage to the concept of human cruelty.
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