Culture and Community in The Giving Tree and The Bear That Wasn´t

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To one, culture and community may seem that they are very similar. Yes, there are some similarities between the two, but if you further interpret them, they become more diverse. Culture is a set of rules and regulations, a heritage, the influence onto the way people act, the roles in society that people encounter, and can be quite manipulative. Community is what people experience on a personal level. Culture is about the whole environment, and the community is about the people within the culture, and their personal relationships.

In the story, “The bear that wasn’t” by Frank Tashlin, Tashlin describes the essence of culture. This story was used to depict the topic of culture in class because it tells a story of a bear who is told that he is not a bear and is made to change the way he lives to fit into a certain culture and become institutionalized. In this story, readers learn about a bear that goes into hibernation, and when he awakens, he finds himself in this new environment, a factory. Because the factory does not have a role for a bear, he is told that he is not a bear. For a while, the bear tells the people in the factory that he is in fact a bear, and they just tell him that he is a hairy man that needs to shave, because if he really was a bear he would be in the zoo or in the circus. After many times trying to tell many different people that he is a bear, and is repetitively turned down, the bear begins to believe that he is not a bear at all. He lost his sense of identity and his sense of self. The bear cooperates with the rules and fulfills the role of a factory worker. At the end of the story he again hibernates, and awakens to his real environment and realizes that he is a bear. This is a good choice for a story abo...

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...omes back after many years of being on his own whenever he needs something or some confidence. The tree doesn’t just give herself to anyone, but only to this boy. Silverstein does a great job at letting readers understand how community comes into play in a culture. Even though, humans don’t live in a culture where they have special bonds with trees and inanimate objects, there is much more than the tree just being a tree. The tree is THIS BOY’S tree.

As told in these stories, we can realize what it means to be in a culture, and to have a community. The main difference between culture and community is that culture entirely encompasses all relationships and creates roles for people to fulfill, and community is what keeps the culture together. Community is the backbone for a culture. Without relationships, there would be no roles and rules for people to fall into.

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