Deviance In Society: Wideman's Our Time Essay

Deviance In Society: Wideman's Our Time Essay

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Often, when a story is told, it follows the events of the protagonist. It is told in a way that justifies the reasons and emotions behind the protagonist actions and reactions. While listening to the story being cited, one tends to forget about the other side of the story, about the antagonist motivations, about all the reasons that justify the antagonist actions.

Deviance in Society
Wideman’s writing is uniquely phrased. It changes voices along the way to explore different sides and perspectives, leaving the readers wondering about basic concepts. When I finished reading “Our Time” I was confused about a lot of its aspects. Because Robby is displayed as the main protagonist as well as the main antagonist of the story, I was confused about Robby’s standings. Is Robby a criminal or a victim? What was John trying to say when he shared this story? Can someone be a criminal and a victim at the same time?
The story appears to be revolving around deviance. Deviance is defined as the violation of norms, whether the infraction is as grave as murder or as trivial as driving over the speed limit. However, what makes something deviant is not the act itself, but the reaction to the act. In this story, both Robby and John are deviants. John violated his society norms by doing something that is not expected of him. He became a scholar, married a white woman. This is not a bad thing in itself but the way John accomplished it is not good either. John pushed away his family and deliberately distanced himself from his Homewood community. This suggests that deviance is neutral in itself; it can be negative or positive. It is also relative, as it can be positive from one side and negative from the other. People often th...

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...face some trials that scar it, but not uproot it. The soul will remain strong and hopeful even after receiving a strike from fate. We need to find this kind of soul in ourselves and plant its seed in our offspring.
We need to take a more humane approach in everything we do. Deviance is inevitable. We need to focus on the larger issue; finding ways to protect people from deviance that harms them and harms others. We need to tolerate what is not harmful, and develop systems of fairer treatment so we would not be confused over another Robby.

Henslin, J. M. (2010) Sociology: A down-to-earth approach (10th ed.).
Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Wideman, John Edgar. "Our Time". Ways of reading: An Anthology for Writers [ninth edition]. Ed. Bartholomae, David and Anthony Petrosky. N.Y.|Boston: Bedford/St. Martin Press. 2011.655-694. Print.

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