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Compare and Contrast 'Maternity', written by Lilika Nakos and 'The Lemon Orchard', by Alex La Guma.

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast essay (1st draft). 'Maternity', written by Lilika Nakos and 'The Lemon Orchard', by Alex La Guma both present an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. The teenage boy, Mikali, in 'Maternity' stands for courage and determination, who tries at any cost to save his infant brother. Similarly, in 'The Lemon Orchard' the protagonist is a man of great self-respect who retains his pride against great odds. The story is mainly about a black man who is to be beaten up by a mob of white men solely because he has dared to ask for justice. The ominous atmosphere established in this short story is primarily evoked through the use of symbolism. Despite the striking similarity, 'Maternity' concludes on an uplifting tone, conveying that although racism leads to conflict it can also be an opportunity for a rewarding and enriching experience. There is always hope, and it takes unique situations to overcome racism, as well as compassion from people who know no barrier of creed, caste and colour. In contrast with the serious approach to racism is 'The All-American Slurp', written by Lensey Namioka. This is a humorous approach to a young girl's encounter with a foreign culture. This short story playfully mocks culture groups who want to 'fit in', by watering down their own culture to adapt and feel accepted. ...read more.

Middle

The Chinaman retains his sense of humanity, whilst selfishness prevails amongst the women. The Chinaman's wife is portrayed as the 'ideal mother', evokes culture warmth and etiquette as she accepts the child as it is. One parallel between 'Maternity' and 'The Lemon Orchard' is their use of tactile imagery and symbolism, which is so delicate, the reader, may not consciously recognize it, yet it helps immensely in creating the menacing atmosphere desired. Alex la Guma also wants to show the conflict between man and nature. So uses detailed description and pathetic fallacy to make the reader feel apprehensive and make the weather, scene and story fit together: "... there was a chill in the air; and the moon was hidden behind long, high parallels of cloud, which hung like suspended streamers of dirty cotton wool in the sky. In 'The Lemon Orchard' the notion of 'chill' and 'winter' keeps circulating; it has a strong metaphorical significance, representing the indifference and coldness of the white man. On a very basic level, one can already note the significance for the use of night and dark imagery - to portray a sense of secrecy and fear of the white men. On a further level, Alex la Guma's use of night imagery indicates the white men's blindness towards racism. ...read more.

Conclusion

This technique portrays the realism whilst also helping immensely in bringing out the irony. The young Chinese girl thinks that because she comes from a different ethnic background she that the American family will be less receptive and assume that they are 'weird'. It is her hypersensitivity that makes it so difficult for her to 'fit in' the American way of living as she does not want to disgrace herself. "Mother picked up one of the green stalks, and father followed suit. Then I picked up a stalk, and my brother did to" The mother is able to adapt, whilst the patriotic father is set in his own ways. The mother inverts the stereotype as she seems to be in control and her family looks up to her. Amusingly the Chinese family thinks the American family is primitive and backward and they are more advanced, however by the end the story highlights the endless similarities that often mark as differences. All of these short stories give the reader an insight in the flaws of human nature. Yet also helps the reader understand the concept that everyone is equal and entitled to the same amount of respect. These stories are voices to make people aware of what is happening to society and convey in a world of slander, ignorance and discrimination that there is always hope. ...read more.

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