Exploring Culture in Ali's "Brick Lane" and Hughes' "I, Too, Sing America"

Exploring Culture in Ali's "Brick Lane" and Hughes' "I, Too, Sing America"

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Culture is something we have all heard in our daily lives. In literature, culture is used very well and analyzing it to get the true meaning of culture portrayed in a text can be very useful. Culture can mean various things from what you do and what you think to your general lifestyle. It defines the person you are and is present within everyone’s life.
Culture is very important in texts and it is worth analyzing. You know a lot more about the text if you know the meaning of culture in that text. (E.g. Which actions are accepted or denied). You get to discover motives for peoples’ actions and also get to know the general lifestyle the characters live in.
I will be analyzing culture portrayed in two texts: “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali, about a woman’s life in a village of Pakistan moving to a Western society in London with her new husband and “I, Too, Sing America” by Langston Hughes about black peoples’ rights differing to those of white peoples’
Brick Lane contains many examples of portrayal of culture. This text is written as a third person omniscient so there are no direct opinions or feelings, although we can clearly figure out what they would be. The main theme that associates with this text is family life. We see how Nazneen’s father forces her marriage and is very strict about it as a result of her sister Hasina’s marriage going wrong. We also discover that in their culture it seems to be accepted for the daughter to be forced to marry the man of her father’s choice when Nazneen says to her father, “Abba, it is good that you have chosen my husband. I hope I can be a good wife, like Amma.” Nazneen states that she thinks her mother is a good wife and hopes she can be like her. We notice that after she gets married, she follo...


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...very much different to “Brick Lane” because it is very subtly describing the cruel culture of America at that time but explicitly revealing the thoughts of black people. There is no description or explanation in the poem as opposed to Brick Lane but still contains representations of culture through short sentences or phrases and figurative language. We can see from just exploring two texts and slightly contrasting them, we get to learn the different ways culture can be portrayed. The culture of a society doesn’t necessarily need to be a non-fiction piece for us to know more about the culture but can be stories or poems, in these cases. We also do not need a vast number of information on the culture but like the poem can be short but still give away the true meaning. Just from this, we know how powerful culture is, and how many different ways it can be represented.

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