Theme of Self and Cultural Identity

Culture covers all aspects of humans, and because of how the world has shaped and defined culture, we can ultimately say the impact of our environment greatly affects someone’s identity. Through religion, spoken languages, location, and our prosperity, are all some of the things that’s sub-classfies culture as a whole. At times we don’t realize the effects culture has on our own identity because we only see the effects we have on ourselves, but in reality we have been cultivating since birth, acquiring traits learned from our elders, like the music, language, food, and beliefs that we live by.

At times the world has played as a dividing line between different cultures, it has distinguished use from a group of people, labeled, stereotyped, and still we see it as part of our identity. They’re are number of reasons why one might detach themselves from their culture, fundamentally being because of the world. The world’s viewpoints have belittled, singled out cultures into thinking of them as “outside of the norm”. They’re everyday actions, have been targeted as “strange” or “different”. As a result of that, they have perceived the world in which they live in as being cold and ruthless into were any further identification of their culture, can result into them being a target for society.

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But, there are many more positive attributes that culture has had on individuals, for one, a sense of unity has united people together through there cultural similarities. Also culture initiates the role of tradition, being that tradition plays a huge role in the development of one’s everyday life, their identity, and how they view the history of their culture. Overall, the views shaping and misshaping culture condemned by the world has a great effect on someone’s culture and cultural values, and has an even greater effect of how that individual or a specific group perceives the world.

In many cases we have all seen and experienced culture first hand, there are many sources that allows use to do so, rather thats going out into the real world and experiencing it for yourself or just watching a film or reading about it, can all give you an insight of what culture is, and the effect it has on certain people. Some of the sources that convey the overall theme of cultural identity influencing individual’s perspectives are the following… “Hunger of Memory” an autobiography published by Richard Rodriguez, that convey the overall theme of self and cultural identity.

Furthermore “Indians Father’s Plea” by Robert Lake, a descendant from three Native American Tribes, talks about the hardship his son had to take because of the cultural division he experienced at his school. “Us and Them” written by David Sedaris is a story told from a young boys point veiw.In the story the boy begins to observe his neighbors, he perceives them as outsiders that go against the norm, unlike him and the rest of the world.

And lastly, Bless me Ultima, an Ethnic written novel by Rudolfo Anaya shows the difficulties a young boy has to face, there’s multiple coming of age moments which allows him to discover is identity and his self morals. All of these sources have one thing center around them, and that’s culture. Four these four pieces culture plays a pivotal role in there lives, and shows the insight of how the character perceives the world through the experience of their culture.

There’s no question that one’s culture is shaped by the world, and given the outlook, ultimately shaping the way one views the world. In “Hunger of Memory” an autobiography written by Richard Rodriguez walks his readers into an cultural assimilation as him being an Latin American man living in what he says “white America”. Through Rodriguez’s life experiences as being an ethnic educated man, he quotes himself as being a “comic victim of two cultures.”

That was one of the main conflicts noted in his novel, being indifferent to his Mexican origins or unconcerned of it, in relation to gaining upward mobility in his American Heritage. In his writing he suggest that he has grown culturally separated from his parents because of his schooling. This plays a big part in his life, and this writing piece because you can see the divide in which he has to face between the two cultures, the culture he was born in, or the western culture. “Hunger of Memory” explains how he gave up part his Mexican identity, in order to fit into the Western culture.

Like said before there’s no question that the world shapes your culture and for Rodriguez, he’s been greatly affected by society’s impacts on a person’s identity. The change that occured from him being a young boy with intense family closeness, to a mid 30 year old man whos disclosed his family, and culture has significantly conveyed the impact our world has on our culture. Through these experiences Rodriguez’s perspective on his beliefs, prosperity, traditions pretty much everything that makes up one’s culture has changed. Through reading this source “Hunger of Memory” by Richard Rodriguez, you can firmly conclude that’s there’s a thin line between inner and outer self.

Coupled with culture, we have the source “Indians Fathers Plea” that was written in the form of a letter by Robert Lake. Lake argues, that his son is “not culturally disadvantaged but culturally different” addressed to his teacher who sees otherwise. In addition to, we have the memoir “Us and Them” by David Sedaris, A first person point of view showing of Sedaris as a young boy creating a false impression of how he viewed his neighbors the Tomkeys.

The reason why these two sources are similar because there both about judgment of one’s culture. In the letter “Indians Father Plea” Lake talks about his son’s Wind- Wolf’s Background, he shares traditions that one might do being Native American like, studying birds, attending ancient and sacred dances of his people, and gathering herbs of healing. He says this to prove a claim that he has been raised up in a different culture than the other children, leading to him know different information than others. Robert Lake states “So I realize he may be slow in grasping the methods and tools that you are now using in your classroom.”

Furthermore he mentions the students in the classroom laughed at his son because of his hair. Long hair means masculinity in the Indian culture, but because of his classmates targeting him, he cut it off. Not only was Wind-wolf perceived as “slow” he also had to face people not understanding his culture. Through this, his perception of his culture changed, as to where he is ashamed of it. On the other side of things, we have the personal story “Us and Them” by David Sedaris, like said before these two sources relate because of the theme of judgment of culture.

Just like Wind-Wolf classmates and his teacher, David too, wrongfully judged a group based on their everyday living. Right of the back, the title “Use and Them” should already convey a inference of the story. The way the words “us” and “them” are used seems to be placing them in diverse groups as if they were completely different. When you start reading the story, Davids perception of the Tomkeys changes towards the end, it goes from him thinking the Tomkey’s need a guide to help them out with all the things they don’t understand, to him thinking of them as aliens, where he stuffs all his candy down his throat in a selfish attempt to not letting them have some.

Through this you can see the similarities the two sources share, The Tomkeys go by a life outside of the norm, just like Wind-Wolf, they’re both scrutinized by individuals that don’t know much about them. Unlike Windwolf, the Tomkeys perception of the world doesn’t change it was more of David’s perception that changed, as the world implicated in his mind, that one must have a TV or trick treat on the day of halloween to be considered normal, he lived by this and judged those who didn’t go but the rules established by society. These two sources are a prime example of the influence the world has on one’s culture, and how one views the world from it.

Saving the best for last, Bless Me Ultima, An Ethnic Written novel by Anya Radufalo almost is the pure deifniton of how cultural identity influences an individual’s perspective. The story starts off with a young boy named Antonio who meets a older women named Ultima. Ultima becomes more of Antonio’s Benevolent guide, she teaches Antonio that different belief systems can offer equally valid ways of understanding the world. In the novel, you see the progress that Antonio make to maturity and that because he learns a person can draw from several cultural traditions to make it their own. Throughout the story Antonio is achieving this constant battle of striving to make his own moral decisions

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Theme of Self and Cultural Identity. (2021, Sep 20). Retrieved from