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Examining the way culture or ways of the society impinge upon the stories "Snapshots of a Wedding" by Bessie Head and "The Young Couple" by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

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Introduction

Consider how, in any two stories that you have studied, the culture or ways of the society impinge upon the story. The two stories that I have decided to choose for this essay are "Snapshots of a Wedding" by Bessie Head and "The Young Couple" by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The first story that I will examine is "Snapshots of a Wedding". Throughout this story there are various references to Botswanan culture and Botswanan society. The main thing that strikes me at the beginning of the story is that it appears to be changing from a more traditional society to a more modern society. "No one had been awake all night preparing diphiri or the traditional wedding breakfast" and "the bride was six months pregnant and showing it, so there was just going to be a quick marriage ceremony at the police camp" both give me this impression. The society appears to be largely uneducated as Neo "was the only one who had completed her O-levels". However, they do not appear to be resistant to this perception, as "she never failed to rub in this fact". She is considered to be lucky, too due to the fact that her husband-to-be has made her and another girl pregnant! "Life had treated Neo rather nicely. Two months after completing her O-levels, she became pregnant by Kegoletile with their first child. ...read more.

Middle

Perhaps the reason for this is that "sly men with dirty fingers touched her surreptitiously from out of the crowd". Perhaps women are seen as easy targets in India and so must stick in groups or not go out at all, as she is pregnant, which adds to the concern. The society seems to be rich and almost materialistic as there are various references to her "long blonde hair" and at one point, there is an image of her lying "on the bed, on her stomach, one foot with a silver slipper dangling from it up in the air, her fingers twisting her golden plait". Blonde, golden and silver are all adjectives describing material things, rich in wealth and quality. This may be reflecting the style of the society. It seems that in India, the society and culture encourage women to be covered and not exposing various parts of their bodies to entice men. I get this impression because there is particular emphasis on her "low-cut pink nylon nightie with a lace top" and a contrast to her "pretending to merge with a crowd of modestly veiled women". There is a communication problem, too. This is most magnified when the "sweeper-woman came and there was no other language but smiles and nods by which she and Cathy could communicate". However, when Naraian speaks to the sweeper-woman "rather too rudely and loudly, Cathy thought, the sweeper-woman never seemed to mind, on the contrary, she showed her pointed teeth wider, whiter than ever". ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Indian society is more developed, as there are "various sorts of jobs that this social standing and background permitted her to do". In Botswanan society, the role of women appears to be changing. They seem to be gaining more prominence in everyday society as "she had endless opportunities - typist, book-keeper or secretary". However, Indian culture appears to be the same as in previous generations as it remains that women stay at home and do household work as housewives. "Our girls do not go out into these bazaars alone. It is not proper for us," tells me this. Finally, in Botswanan society, there is freedom before and after marriage for men as "let him come and go as he likes" tells me this. However, there are no such offers in Indian society. However, there are also similarities between the two cultures or ways of the society. Such an example is the concept of large families in both the stories. In the Botswanan story, this is backed up by the fact that "she became pregnant (with their second child) six months before the marriage" and in the Indian story, "the house was quite large enough to absorb a large amount of married sons with their young families". Both societies appear to be matriarchal as, in the Botswanan story, "he prepared the huts in the new yard and "was rich in cattle". In the Indian story, "Our girls (Indian girls) don't go into these bazaars alone. It is not proper for us. ...read more.

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