In Pat Mora's poem, "Legal Alien," the author describes her biracial character as being "viewed by Anglos as perhaps exotic, / perhaps inferior, definitely different, / viewed by Mexicans as alien," a description which highlights the situation encountered by people who strive to be prestigious individuals by floating between cultures and who consequently fail to be a part of any particular group (Mora 9-11). Often the individuals are biologically trapped between two probable lives, and they forge ahead to meet the opportunity of possibly belonging to the higher society while they degrade the small culture which has weaned them from birth. These people find themselves caught up in the universal ideals of achievement and prestige, and they begin to find fault with themselves and their backgrounds; they believe that their perception of themselves must be changed and improved. They must be a part of the group; however, conflict results from their selfish desires, and they are rejected by both organizations. Expressively evident in the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the conflict within certain racial groups often occurs when individuals of one race, blacks, strive to push themselves to the level of another race, whites; thus, the others left behind feel as if they have been betrayed while the whites gaze condescendingly on the black infiltrators.
The ambitious individuals often follow a course of action involving the persecution of their own fellow brothers and the adoption of the features of their ideal, or higher, society. In trying to push herself to a level above the black folks, Mrs. Turner, a mulatto woman who is convinced of her superi...
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...nt. By focusing on black society and showing the failure of an ambitious, "white" woman, she recognizes that a higher society is not necessarily better, as evidenced by the way Mrs. Turner attacks a weaker group of human beings. Mrs. Turner never comes remotely close to reaching the level of her white brothers, and she cuts her ties to her black neighbors so that she is lost and living without an identity. As Mrs. Turner insults the blacks, she claims that "'de higher de monkey climbs de mo' he show his behind," and this quotation surely seems to describe her and her situation (Hurston 136). The consequences of her prejudicial behavior have caused her to become "an American to Mexicans/ a Mexican to Americans" and nothing to herself (Mora 14-15).
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Library, 1990 ed.
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