One of the methods in which nations and individuals associate together is through Cultural Encounters. In order to know what Cultural Encounters is, we must distinguish what is the meaning of Culture in the first place. Culture is the features of a particular group of people within societies which they shared the beliefs, religious practices, behaviour, rituals, objects, language, and other features. It touches our self-satisfaction, our value and the welfare of our society. It means peoples way of life. It inherits between generations through actions of learning and teaching by the elderly or parents to children, or even through education resources such as schools and books. Its mostly utilized in three different ways such as fine arts, humanities, and the morals.
The cultural encounter is a communication between individuals of any two groups of people with different standards, and Its used on conditions of modern society. It happens between different genders such as women and men. This encounter does not require certain age such as kids and adults. It conveys change and learning, and it rarely occurs without clashes. It leads to development and change, whether it because of tourism, movement, expansionism, war or migration. It has been happening through mankind’s history over this entire globe and in many different sorts of interactions, interchanges, and communications between individuals. In order to understand more about these encounters in details, we need to read a book called A World of Difference (Short stories anthology, edited by Lynda Prescott) and to know how these encounters had an impact between different people and culture.
The first cultural encounter that we come across in this book is from the short story The Ultimate Safari by Nadine Gordimer .she is a Jewish woman, her father is a Latvian man and her mother is an English lady .she lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. This could be a cultural encounter itself. In her story ‘ ultimate safari, the encounter shows between black people, refugees and a white journalist that came meet the black people and to make a film about their life. Its an encounter between people from different parts of the world. On the other story The Pit Strike by Alan Sillitoe.He was born in Nottingham, England. The encounter in this story is when Joshua the main character and other people were traveling in their old banger van and they needed to refuel, so they decided to stop at a gas station. The gas stations holder noticed a phrase written on the back window of the van Support The Miners, so he rejected to refuel their tank because of their cause, which it led Joshua to pull out a bible of his which he always keeps around and tried to threaten the gas station’s owner. The cultural encounter was when Joshua travels for the first time through the south of England, which makes him feel completely like a different country.
Moving on to our main discussion, the story is Martha, Martha by Zadie Smith. Zadie born in north-west London. Her mother is Jamaican, who had emigrated and her father is an English man. This story tells us about the two ladies Pam and Martha .They were looking for an apartment or resident for Martha. Pam works as an estate agent and she was serving Martha to find a suitable place for her. Pam is a divorced middle-aged lady and it appears in the story that she is facing a crisis from her past. Pam is bigger than Martha.she presents a lighter tone in the scenario and it appears that she still faces challenges from her own past.
In the story Martha penk is trying to rent a flat because she wants to be close to the university, she wants to study law. The meaning of penk is minnow or the small fish, Smith chooses this name to show that Martha without shoals like small fish in the big swamp. She is seeking for way after she had got far from her way of happiness when the most important people who meant a lot for her are not by her side. She always quit, she seems to try to protect herself or she is trying to hide something.
In the beginning of the story, you will see pam the main character playing Mozart requiem, this is culturally significant as 9/11 memorialized through the rolling of requiem every year, and this show that pam is aware of culture encounter. Although pam does not know Latin, she creates her own lyrics as is shown in the story when smith capitalized it ’OH I SEE YOU WILL GO DOWN, OH! I SEE YOU WILL GO DOWN! ALSO! ALSO!.
The first culture encounter in the story was when Pam identifies the Middle-Eastern man because of his heavy accent and he wears a Middle-Eastern scarf. Another culture encounter happened between the two main characters, Pam Roberts is an American and Martha Penk is an English-Nigerian .Also, Pam encounters with students from different country such as chines and India .She met also Youssef the Moroccan and his wife the American. All these encounters show that pam was aware of culture encounter .The weather in the story is phatic sophistry, it is cold and snowy. Pam imagines that Martha is being inside a snow globe as it appears in the story when Smith says: she seemed calmly framed, remote like a figure in plastic snow storm (smith, 187). This connection help to show Martha penk as removed, isolated and framed by doors or windows. Martha trys to hide something. Her answers are very short or brief which it sometimes considered as rude. As the story progress, pam and Martha form a strong and weird connection over their past which includes love and separation on both ends. Pam says during the progress of the story “I just think you have to make things work for you, work for you personally, because life is really too short, and if they don’t work, you just have to go ahead and cut them loose… This shows an understanding of how the past haunts you and how you have to learn to move on. We encounter with several people in the story. They are from different countries such as Eastern, Moroccan, Chinese, and American. The encounter with the Moroccan and the American family Youssef, Amelia and their daughter Lilly, they set their apartment for rent. This encounter seems to raise the hope in pam, yet as we know of Martha’s past, that her heart is too heavy, it carries emotional feelings of her past. Martha located herself in the bathroom, flooded photograph from her coat pocket and she cried. Maybe she wants to live like this small family.so it is a sad encounter for Martha. There is imagery that shows that Martha is suffocated, sad and captivated such as when Martha wants to open windows. All these encounters with Martha show that she is aware of the culture encounter.
The writer is well aware of the culture encounter theme. Smith uses features such as settings, words, expressions, languages, techniques and characters in way which shows her awareness of culture. She attempted to enable to the reader to ask themselves with how Martha was sad and about her mystery past .Smith used the observer narrator as it clearly in the scenario. Although the writer provides the first-hand feelings, she gives the third person dialect throughout. She gives insight views upon each individual character. She uses imageries that shows that Martha is wanted to breathe; it appears clearly when Martha says ‘i will walk. I want to walk-i need some air'(Smith, pg.193).Also appears in the scenario Martha wound down the window that Pam had just closed and Pam felt she might just scream if the girl kept letting the outside in(Smith pg.189). She uses the vocabulary in smartly way. You can see in the scenario that Pam cannot place Martha in terms of class but the reader can. Her uses of vocabulary appears clearly when Martha says I just arsked the taxi to take me to nearest hotel.’ (pg. 181).Also the ‘Middle Eastern ‘ men when Pam refers that he uses the incorrect syntax, He says I make mistake. Sorry, please’ (Smith, pg180). Youssef is speaks adeptly, being educated Moroccan. The used of syntax here is plain but the use of language limited and confirmed. He says ‘No, She’s just a fat girl now! I feed her too much! (Smith, pg.191).
The concept of people color used to format the theme of cultural encounters in many aspects. Our main character Pam encounters with English Nigerian Martha penk which is her skin color is black. Pam says that Martha did not look sorry because her skin face was very black and not blush. Another concept appears in the scenario when Martha talked to Pam; Martha said there arent any black students, Pam answered her that there are plenty of students of color here and she mentioned Chinese and Indian students. This is shows that pam has racism side to other people which she encountered, she judging people without knowing their culture background. Pam also shows racism when she said about Amelia “she is American, just American” The color concept is one of the reasons for the culture encounter which happened in the story.
In conclusion, culture encounters are the interaction between groups of people of different ages and thoughts. It tests our thinking according to the culture which it relates to religiously, politically or to any other factors. It includes learning, development, and change between people who came from different societies. Tourism, movement, expansionism, war or migrations are all a part of the cultural encounters. Its a portion of our life, it has the good and the bad within it and it contains the moral and the tragic lessons or endings. History repeats itself.