Tangled Cultures in Heart of Darkness, Things Fall Apart and Learning to Bow, Inside the Heart of Japan

Tangled Cultures in Heart of Darkness, Things Fall Apart and Learning to Bow, Inside the Heart of Japan

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Culture is found everywhere. It is found in art, music, tradition, religion, language and law. Culture is hard to ignore, for it is the environment of a person’s upbringing, making us who we are as humans today. These three books, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Learning to Bow, Inside the Heart of Japan by Bruce Feiler, discuss different cultures and the effects that cohabitation have on them. When two unfamiliar cultures cohabit both cultural groups are effected. Belief systems are challenge, perceptions continue to be predetermined and one when cultures work mutually to understand each other are there positive outcomes.
In the book Heart of Darkness, Marlow; a steamship captain, is sent up the Congo river by his employer to transport ivory and to bring back Kurtz. Kurtz acquisition of ivory for the company tops any other employees and is related to his relationship with the native tribes. He asserts himself as a god and raids nearby tribes promoting his position and forcing the natives to collect ivory. While Marlow ventures up the river he notices the inhuman treatment of the native people and the eagerness of his peers to assert themselves over the natives.
Marlow and his crew members are from Europe. They share many of the same beliefs from their own culture, which is Imperialistic. Imperialistic countries use their own power to influence another country through force or diplomacy. Marlow had just arrived in the Congo and came across a group of men, being punished with purposeless labor.
“I avoided a vast artificial hole somebody had been digging on the slope, the purpose of which I found it impossible to divine. It wasn’t a quarry or a sandpit, anyhow. ...


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...on can be seen throughout these novels from domination through slavery to the mutual understanding of a man teaching his English culture. These beliefs often cause false perceptions of others which can be difficult to change. Reading these stories of similar topics, each having it’s own perspective leads the reader to understand why these perceptions were developed. In the end, a mutual relationship through understanding and acceptance allows the two cultures to learn from one another. Sometimes being as simple as using chopsticks.


Works Cited
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.
Conrad, Joseph, and Ross C. Murfin. Heart of Darkness: Joseph Conrad ; a Case Study in
Contemporary Criticism. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1996. Print.
Feiler, Bruce S. Learning to Bow: inside the Heart of Japan. New York: Perennial, 2004. Print.

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