Heroic Qualities Analysis

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Assessment 3 Instructions: Heroic Qualities Analysis
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
· PRINT
· Select an artifact that depicts a hero and analyze the heroic qualities and transformation journey of that story. Then compare and contrast the hero story to a person you consider a hero in your own life.
Introduction
Other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.
– Amy Poehler, actress, comedian, and writer
Much of Amy Poehler’s work, including her time onSaturday Night LiveandParks and Recreation, involved her closely collaborating with a team. Just like Amy, working with others who have different perspectives and talents can not only help you successfully meet your goals, it can also inspire you (and others) to work in new ways.
In this assessment, you will continue to strengthen your relationship-building skills as you explore how artists work together to change people’s perspectives and how you can use those same strategies to inspire change in your personal and professional life. Exploring these strategies will also help you hone your self- and social-awareness skills. That’s because,to work with teams effectively, you need to consider how others are feeling and how you can encourage them to do their best work. When your team members are doing their best, you’ll find that you do your best, too.
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
– Michael Jordan, professional basketball player
“It’s easier if I just do it myself.” That thought has probably crossed your mind at some point in your life or career. It might happen when you’re working alone on a challenging task,you feel like explaining your processor asking for help will only make more work for you. In some situations, it may truly be easier to go at it alone. But more often, there is a tremendous benefit to working with others, especially when those people have different perspectives than your
During this assessment, you will also strengthen your relationship-building skills by exploring how artists collaborate with others to grow their abilities and how you can also work constructively with other people to achieve great things in your personal and professional life. As you collaborate with friends, peers, and colleagues, you will continue to strengthen your self- and social-awareness skills by learning to grow from feedback.
References
BrainyQuote. (n.d.).Michael Jordan quotes. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/michael_jordan_167383
Goodreads. (n.d.).Amy Poehler quotes. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1227166-as-you-navigate-through-the-rest-of-your-life-be
Overview
As you navigate environments in your personal and professional life, you will engage with people and artifacts from different cultures. In these interactions, you will naturally compare the similarities and differences of other cultures to your own and to other cultures you have been exposed to. This analysis will help you make meaning of information and be more effective in your interactions at work, home, and school.
In this assessment, you will analyze the differences and similarities between the two cultures using the cultural artifacts you have selected. You will then relate your analysis to explain certain aspects of that culture.
Preparation
You will chooseonetopic from the options listed below to conduct your comparative culture analysis. After you select your topic, you will then select two artifacts related to your topic to use as the subjects of your analysis. You will also support your analysis with relevant course readings and resources.
· Topic Option 1: Cultural Views on Making Decisions.Analyze the cultural artifacts you examined in Chapter 4 of Exploring Cultures. Make sure you identify the cultural artifacts selected for this analysis. Your analysis of the artifacts should inform us of how you perceive the cultures from these aspects:
1. Making decisions and/or resolving conflicts: Discuss two similarities and two differences in approaches used by these cultures.
1. Cultural values and beliefs: Explain what your analysis suggests to you about the cultural values and beliefs of each culture and how they approach decision-making and/or problem-solving.
. Topic Option 2: Cultural Views on Customs and Traditions.Analyze the cultural artifacts you examined in Chapter 5 of Exploring Cultures. Make sure you identify the cultural artifacts selected for this analysis. Your analysis of the artifacts should inform us of how you perceive the cultures from these aspects:
2. Customs and traditions: Discuss two similarities and two differences around the customs and traditions of these cultures.
2. Cultural values and beliefs: Explain what your analysis suggests to you about the cultural values and beliefs of each culture related to customs and traditions.
. Topic Option 3: Cultural Views on Heroic Qualities.Analyze the cultural artifacts you examined in Chapter 6 of Exploring Cultures.Make sure you identify the cultural artifacts selected for this analysis. Your analysis of the artifacts should inform us of how you perceive the cultures from these aspects:
3. Qualities of the hero story: Identify two similarities and two differences between the hero stories from these cultures.
3. Cultural values and beliefs: Explain what your findings suggest to you about the cultural values and beliefs of each culture regarding what makes a hero.
Instructions
After you have chosen your topic and the relevant artifacts, write 3 pages that incorporate the following items:
1. Compare and contrast the cultures represented in your chosen artifacts.
. Describe the artifacts you selected on which you will conduct your cultural analysis. Be sure to identify the cultures.
. Identify the similarities and differences between the cultures as they relate to how your chosen topic is depicted in the cultural artifacts.
2. Analyze the artifacts to inform how the depicted cultures approach the cultural views of your selected topic.
. If you selected Topic 1: Cultural Views on Making Decisions:
6. Discuss two similarities and two differences in approaches used by these cultures.
6. Explain what your analysis suggests to you about the cultural values and beliefs of each culture and how they approach decision-making and/or problem-solving.
. If you selected Topic 2: Cultural Views on Customs and Traditions:
7. Discuss two similarities and two differences around the customs and traditions of these cultures.
7. Explain what your analysis suggests to you about the cultural values and beliefs of each culture related to customs and traditions.
. If you selected Topic 3: Cultural Views on Heroic Qualities:
8. Discuss two similarities and two differences between the hero stories from these cultures.
8. Explain what your findings suggest to you about the cultural values and beliefs of each culture regarding what makes a hero.
3. Summarize two main takeaways about the cultures reflected and insights you gained.
. Describe what you learned about the cultures reflected.
. Explain how the insights you gained from these two cultures can be used to widen your perspective.
4. Explain how understanding the cultural similarities and differences that exist between your own culture and your chosen cultures can benefit you in your
personal, academic, and professional life.
. Describe at least two similarities and/or differences between your own cultural values and ideals and that of one of the cultures you chose for this assessment.
. Explain how these insights can be used to support your professional, academic, and personal endeavors.
5. Write in a well-organized and concise manner that adheres to the rules of grammar, usage, mechanics, and formatting.
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Your submission should meet the following requirements:
. Length:3 pages of text, in addition to a title page and reference page.
. Written communication:Written communication should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
. Formatting:Format your submission in APA style, with a title page, double spacing, and a reference page.
. Citations:Properly cite sources according to APA rules. ReviewEvidence and APAfor more information on how to cite your sources.
Competencies Measured
By successfully completing thisassessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and scoring guide criteria:
. Competency1:Analyze personal cultural bias.
17. Explain how understanding the cultural similarities and differences that exist between one’s own culture and these cultures can benefit one’s personal, academic, and professional life.
. Competency3:Analyze cultural differences and similarities of people globally.
18. Compare and contrast the cultures represented in the chosen artifacts.
18. Summarize two main takeaways about the cultures reflected and insights gained.
. Competency4:Analyze the role of culture and artistic expression in human thought and behavior.
19. Analyze the artifacts to inform how the depicted cultures approach the cultural views of the selected topic.
. Competency5:Address assessment purpose in a well-organized text incorporating appropriate evidence and tone in grammatically sound sentences
20. Write in a well-organized and concise manner that adheres to the rules of grammar, usage, and mechanics.
· SCORING GUIDE
Use the scoring guide to understand how your assessment will be evaluated.
VIEW SCORING GUIDE
Exploring Cultures: Adapting in a Global WorldChapter 4: Beating Bias
Jump to section 1: Introduction.Jump to section 2: Cultural Bias and Decision Making.Jump to section 3: How To Connect With Stories.Jump to section 4: Practice Connecting: Aesop’s Fables.Jump to section 5: Practice Analysis: Belling the Cat.Jump to section 6: Preview “The Man to Send Rain Clouds”.Jump to section 7: Connect with the Story.Jump to section 8: PreviewOn My Mind.Jump to section 9: Building Self Awareness.Jump to section 10: Chapter in Review.
CHAPTER 4
Beating Bias
Introduction
It’s unfortunate but true: No matter where they live or what culture they’re a part of, people have problems. If we think of problems in terms of categories—relationships, housing, food, safety, education—then we can see that most of them are universal parts of being human. But of course, the details of your problems depend a lot on your circumstances. Your location, your income, your gender, your race or ethnicity, your culture–all of these factors shape the problems you face and influence how you try to solve them.
POINT TO REMEMBERYour cultural lens affects problem solving, decision making, and conflict resolution.
Stories And Culture
Although we’re still looking at cultural perspectives in this chapter, we’re going to shift the focus of our artifacts away from art and music and toward literature and film. In Chapter 4, we will:
· Consider how decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution differ between cultures.
· Learn how to connect with three different stories, including one short film.
· Examine how self-awareness can help you build your decision making and problem solving skill.
These next few chapters will look a little different due to their focus on stories instead of art or music. But just like you have in the previous chapters, you’ll be using your critical thinking to go through an analysis process with each story. You’ll be building on what you’ve already learned as you come to a better understanding of your cultural lens and the world around you.
Cultural Bias and Decision Making
As you’ve been reading in this course, cultural bias is part of being human. We are all influenced by the culture we live in, and we all see the world through our own cultural lens. Each culture has its own norms, values, and beliefs. But culture doesn’t just affect the way we interact with others. It can also impact the way we make decisions, solve problems, and approach conflict.
This is due in part to cultural norms and expectations–for example, people from some cultures tend to avoid conflict, while others might see arguments as a healthy way of resolving disagreements. Some cultures might encourage a long and careful decision-making process, while others value quick and decisive action. Your culture can even influence the way you interpret information.
What Do You Know?
Having the right information is a key part of decision making. When you know the relevant facts, you’re better equipped to think through situations and consider options and alternatives. But getting the right information isn’t always a straightforward process; sometimes our own preconceptions and beliefs can get in the way. People tend to accept information more readily when it confirms what they already believe. Psychologists call this tendency confirmation bias.
Seeking out the right information from credible sources such as newspapers is a key part of decision making, but sometimes our own preconceptions and beliefs can get in the way.
Confirmation bias can mean searching for information that confirms what you think you already know. It can also mean interpreting information or experiences in a way that supports your existing beliefs or opinions. For example, if you believe that younger people aren’t hard workers, you may be more likely to notice when an intern at your office arrives late to work–andlesslikely to notice when she stays after hours to help finish a project. Since our beliefs are shaped by our cultural perspectives, this means that our cultural perspectives and biases can also influence what we think we know.
Again, this is all part of being human; by recognizing our biases, we can make an effort to lessen their influence.
Counteracting Bias
Allowing cultural bias to negatively affect the way you assess information can lead you to disregard important facts or miss innovative solutions. Fortunately, as you work to broaden your cultural perspective in this course by engaging with diverse artifacts, you’re also taking steps to be a better and less biased decision maker and problem solver.
PAUSE AND THINKWorking with people who have different cultural perspectives from your own can lead to better problem solving.
Working with people who have different cultural perspectives from your own can also lead to better problem solving. In one experiment, researchers found that teams of students with more socially diverse members solved problems more successfully than teams of students belonging to a single social group (Phillips, Liljenquist, & Neale, 2008).
Building your self and social awareness skill is a key part of the decision-making process, since it helps you understand not just your own cultural perspective but also the perspective of the people around you. As your awareness of cultural bias increases, so will your ability to communicate effectively with others. You’ll continue honing your skills as you read and interpret the stories in this chapter. On the next page, we’ll go through a process that will help you engage more deeply with the stories you read.
How To Connect With Stories
You’ve learned about how to connect more closely with music and visual art. Now, we’ll begin looking at stories, one of the basic building blocks of human culture–and, therefore, an important part of the humanities. A story is a series of connected events that are communicated from one person to another. A story might be written, spoken, or sung; it might be as short as a single sentence or stretch to cover thousands of pages. We teach with stories, we entertain one another with them, and we use them to remember the past and imagine what the future might hold.
Because stories serve so many purposes, they can tell us a lot about the cultures that produce them. Stories meant for teaching tell us most directly about the values considered important enough to pass down through generations. But even in stories meant to entertain rather than teach, we can find cultural values in the actions of the characters and the events of the plot. By following a four-step analysis process similar to the one you’re already familiar with, you’ll be able to connect with stories from different cultures and consider what cultural values they reflect.
As you’ll see, the artifact analysis process for stories is a little different, but still easy to follow. Let’s look at what each step involves.
The Artifact Analysis Process For Stories
SOURCE: Clint McFarlin/Soomo Learning
Step 1: Preview It
Read the background:
Each story in the will include basic background information about details like the author, time period, and culture.
Consider the details:
Next, consider what you know about the story so far. Does the title make you think of anything? What do you think it might mean? Have you heard of the author before? Do you know anything about the time period when the story was written? Does any of the background information connect with your own experiences?
Step 2: Summarize It
Read:
Now it’s time to read the story. You’ll see that more background details are provided for you throughout the story; these will help you get the most out of what you’re reading by explaining historical context or literary terms. Read actively take notes and ask questions as you read. Your thoughts and impressions are important, and writing them down in the moment will help you make sure you don’t forget them.
Describe:
Next, take a moment to note some important details about the story. Who are the main characters? Where does the story take place? Jot down a quick summary (really quick–no more than two sentences!) of the plot–the main events that happen in the story. Think about when the story’s climax happens, the most intense and exciting part of the plot. Can you identify a conflict that the characters are experiencing, or a problem that needs to be solved?
Step 3: Interpret It
Now that you’ve taken time to read and summarize the story, it’s time for the bigger questions. Can you identify a theme in the story—a central idea or topic? What do you think the author meant to communicate with this story? Did the author want you to learn about a particular place and time, or to feel certain emotions? Is the story meant to teach a lesson? Authors, just like artists and musicians, make choices and use techniques to try to communicate with their audience. Look for elements like symbols that help to establish the story’s meaning and the author’s message. Remember to support your interpretation with details from the story itself, just as you did when you interpreted works of art and music.
Connect With It
Just as you did with art and music, you’ll start this last step by considering values. As a reminder, here are some common cultural values:
· Achievement
· Community
· Compassion
· Competition
· Cooperation
· Duty
· Equality
· Freedom
· Honesty
· Independence
· Individualism
· Interdependence
· Nurturing
· Perseverence
· Respect for authority
· Security
· Self-determination
· Tradition
The values in the story:
Think of what the story’s characters do and say. What values can you identify in their actions or words? As you think about the historical context of the author or filmmaker, what can you tell about the dominant cultural values of their time and place? What specific details from the story led you to identify these particular values?
Your values:
Once you’ve thought about the values represented in the story, it’s time to relate them to your own. What similarities and differences are there between your values and the values in the story? Do you agree with the decisions made by the characters?
Your cultural perspective:
Now we’re back to your initial response to the story. Think about the cultural values you just identified in the story and how they compare with your own values. Why do you think you responded to the story as you did? How did your cultural perspective shape your response? Do you feel differently about it now that you’ve learned more about it? Remember, you’re reflecting on your own perspective here; there are no right or wrong answers.
Guided Reading
In this course you’ll read stories from a variety of cultures. These stories will involve three themes: decision making; cultural beliefs, customs, and traditions; and heroic qualities. You’ll choose a theme and two of these stories to compare for your second assignment, so make sure you read carefully!
As you’ll see, your focus in these chapters will be on the stories themselves. Each story will be introduced with a little background information to help you preview it, but for the most part you’ll be given the space to interpret the stories for yourself.
Let’s start by practicing the artifact analysis process with stories you may be familiar with already: Aesop’s Fables.
Practice Connecting: Aesop’s Fables
We’re going to start exploring stories with a practice round focused on two quick stories that involve this chapter’s theme of decision making and problem solving. First you’ll read a fable Then you’ll read a second fable and answer questions to analyze it.
Tips for Reading:
Take a moment to focus your attention before you start reading a story. Find a quiet place (or put some headphones on to block out distractions). Close any other tabs or windows on your computer. Glance through the story to see how long it is so you’ll know what to expect. As you read, notice how the story makes you feel.
Sample Analysis: The Lion and the Mouse
Background:
A fable is a short story that teaches a moral lesson, often with animals as characters. Over 2,500 years old, Aesop’s Fables is a collection of stories attributed to an enslaved storyteller in ancient Greece (Aesop, 1919b). Aesop himself is a mysterious figure; ancient writers like Aristotle and Herodotus claimed he was born in Greece, while later European versions of his stories often put his birthplace in Ethiopia. Regardless of origin, Aesop’s Fables spread far and wide. They have been retold, translated, and printed in diverse cultures around the world and remain popular today. Many common sayings you may have heard, like “Honesty is the best policy” and “Slow and steady wins the race,” have their origins in Aesop. As teaching stories, fables provide key insight into what values a culture considers important enough to teach to the next generation.
PAUSE AND THINKWhat does ‘motif’ refer to in visual art?
In the mid-1800s, many artists were using realistic methods as they tried to create works that looked as lifelike as possible. However, their motifs were more likely to be figures from history or classical mythology, or portraits of people in costumes from faraway places. Around the same time, other artists began depicting subjects from local, everyday life. This was a deliberate move, an argument that modern reality and regular people were just as worthy of artistic representation as mythological figures or kings and queens. These artists and their paintings formed the Realist movement (with a capital “R”). The Realists were not only concerned with creating an illusion; they wanted to reinvent the art of painting for the modern world.
The Lion and the Mouse
A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion’s nose. Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her.
“Spare me!” begged the poor Mouse. “Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you.”
The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go.
Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the toils of a hunter’s net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the Lion was free.
“You laughed when I said I would repay you,” said the Mouse. “Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion.”
A kindness is never wasted”
Originally published in The Aesop for Children: with Pictures by Milo Winter (Aesop, 1919c).
In the first step, you’ll preview the text by reading some background information and considering the title.
Step 1: Preview It
The title, “The Lion and the Mouse,” seems straightforward—since I’ve just read that fables often feature animals as characters, it seems pretty likely that this story will involve an actual lion and mouse.
The author is Aesop, who most likely lived in ancient Greece. This story is over 2,500 years old, and it feels familiar to me even though I can’t remember the details. As I think about how long this fable has been used to teach a lesson, I realize I want to think more deeply about why, like the rest of Aesop’s Fables, it has such staying power.
Step 2: Summarize It
The two characters in this story are a lion and a mouse. The mouse accidentally wakes the lion up, and the lion considers killing her. The mouse tells him that if he lets her go, she could do him a favor some day. He does, and at the end of the story she ends up freeing him from a trap.
Now it’s time to interpret the story, digging deeper to figure out the meaning. When you summarize, these are some questions you can ask yourself: What theme can you identify in the story? How do you think the author wanted you to feel, or what lessons were you supposed to learn? What details from the story back up your interpretation?
Step 3: Interpret It
One theme in this story is mercy—having mercy on those who are weaker, like the lion does when he saves the mouse and the mouse does, in turn, when she saves the lion. I think part of the fable’s power for teaching is that the main characters aren’t actually human. Since they’re animals, they’re more relatable to all different kinds of people. The main moral of the story is easy to find (it’s given at the end!), but I think there are also lessons here about advocating for yourself. The mouse doesn’t just freeze in terror or try to run away when she’s caught; she tries her hardest to strike a bargain with the lion to save herself.
In the last step, you’re ready to connect. This is where you identify cultural values then think about your own response to the story and how your cultural lens may have come into play.
Step 4: Connect With It
The story’s values:
The main cultural value in this story is kindness (or maybe, more specifically, mercy). The lion has the mouse in his power but lets her go. I also see integrity as a value in this story; the mouse, when she sees the lion trapped, could ignore their bargain, but she keeps her word and gnaws through the rope to free him.
My values:
Integrity and kindness are definitely two values that I consider important and that I try to foster in myself. This may be because these are important values in my culture. They were certainly values that I was raised to believe in.
My cultural perspective:
My initial response to this story hasn’t changed much. I reacted positively to it because it seemed so familiar. This makes sense because Aesop’s Fables are woven so closely into the fabric of American culture, and that’s the culture I’m a part of.
Practice Analysis: Belling the Cat
Now that you’ve read a sample story analysis, it’s your turn to practice by looking at another of Aesop’s Fables: “Belling the Cat.” Take a moment to look back at the background information about Aesop’s Fables. Then preview the text by answering the question.
Step 1: Preview It
Consider the story’s title–what do you think it might mean? Does it make you think of anything in particular?
Step 2: Summarize It
Tips for Reading:
Once again, take a moment to focus your attention before you start reading. Find a quiet place (or put some headphones on to block out distractions). Close any other tabs or windows on your computer. Glance through the story to see how long it is so you’ll know what to expect. As you read, notice how the story makes you feel.
Belling The Cat
The mice once called a meeting to decide on a plan to free themselves of their enemy, the Cat. At least they wished to find some way of knowing when she was coming, so they might have time to run away. Indeed, something had to be done, for they lived in such constant fear of her claws that they hardly dared stir from their dens by night or day.
Many plans were discussed, but none of them was thought good enough. At last a very young Mouse got up and said:
“I have a plan that seems very simple, but I know it will be successful. All we have to do is to hang a bell about the Cat’s neck. When we hear the bell ringing we will know immediately that our enemy is coming.”
All the Mice were much surprised that they had not thought of such a plan before. But in the midst of the rejoicing over their good fortune, an old Mouse arose and said:
“I will say that the plan of the young Mouse is very good. But let me ask one question: Who will bell the Cat?”
It is one thing to say that something should be done, but quite a different matter to do it.
Originally published in The Aesop for Children: with Pictures by Milo Winter (Aesop, 1919a).
Now it’s time to note the details of the story–the characters, the plot, anything else that will help you interpret its meaning. The questions below will guide you through this step.
Step 3: Interpret It
In addition to the moral at the fable’s end, what lesson does “Belling the Cat” teach us about decision making, and what specific part of the story teaches that lesson?
Great work! Now that you’ve practiced with fables, you’re ready to jump into some longer stories. On the next set of pages, you’ll read a story by Leslie Marmon Silko about people from two cultures figuring out how to coexist in the same community.
Preview “The Man to Send Rain Clouds”
You’ve just practiced artifact analysis with two of Aesop’s Fables. Now it’s time to go through the analysis process with our first short story, Leslie Marmon Silko’s “The Man to Send Rain Clouds.” We’ll start on this page by previewing the story. You’ll read some background information then you’ll access the story from your courseroom and read the story itself, building your reading notes along the way as you answer more questions about the story. Remember, the stories in this chapter feature decision making and conflict resolution, so read with those themes in mind. Let’s get started!
The dry desert lands of New Mexico, where Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko drew inspiration for her short story “The Man to Send Rain Clouds.”
Story Background
“The Man to Send Rain Clouds” is a 1968 short story by Leslie Marmon Silko (b. 1948), a contemporary American writer of Laguna Pueblo Indian ancestry. She is a major figure in the Native American Renaissance, a movement of Native American writing and publishing that began in the 1970s. Silko grew up on a Laguna Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, and though her heritage includes Anglo, Mexican, and Laguna Pueblo ancestry, she identifies most strongly with Laguna culture. She was introduced to traditional stories and songs of the Laguna Pueblo culture by her grandmother and aunt (Poetry Foundation, 2020). In her novels, short fiction, and poetry, she often examines how oral tradition, ritual, and Laguna ceremonies help individuals to create and maintain cultural identity.
Now that you’ve previewed the story by considering aspects like the title and author, it’s time to read. Remember, the topic in this chapter is decision making and conflict resolution. As you read, try to identify decisions that characters make in the story. How do those decisions, big and small, affect the characters and the community they live in?
Before you continue, read to Leslie Silko’s “TThe Man to Send Rain Clouds” in the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
Summarize the Story
Now that you’ve finished “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” pause for a moment to think about what you read. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at the highlights and notes you made while you were reading. Then build your summary by answering the questions below.
Now that you’ve summarized the story, your next step is to interpret its meaning and consider your connections with it. Questions on the next page will walk you through the rest of your analysis.
Analyze “The Man to Send Rain Clouds”
Once you’ve noted what happens in the story, it’s time to dig deeper with the Interpret and Connect steps. Writing template questions on this page will walk you through each step. As you answer the questions, you’ll continue building the collection of reading notes that you can use when you work on Assignment 2.
Interpret The Meaning
When you interpret the story, you’re thinking about its meaning, and also thinking about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the story. Think about the values you can identify in the character’s actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the story.
Next up is another story featuring decision making, this one set in 1980s Nigeria.
Some decisions have small effects. Other decisions, though, can change the course of life for a family or a whole community. That’s the case in the story we’re going to read next. Take a moment first to preview it by reading some background about the story and its author.
Story Background
“Olikoye” is a 2015 short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977), an award-winning contemporary Nigerian writer. She grew up in Nsukka, Nigeria, where her father taught at the University of Nigeria and her mother also worked as a registrar. At nineteen, Adichie came to the United States, where she attended college and graduate school. She has published several acclaimed novels focusing on explorations of cultural identity, patriarchal cultures and female empowerment, and the experiences of immigrants. Currently, she spends time in both Nigeria and the United States (Tunca, 2020).
Great work! Now that you’ve previewed the text, it’s time to read the story. Look for decisions as you read and remember to highlight and note your own questions or reactions.
Before you continue, read Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Olikoye” in the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
Now that you’ve previewed the story, it’s time to dive in. As you read, remember to keep an eye out for the topic of this chapter which is decision making. What decisions are made in the story, and why? How do those decisions, big and small, affect the characters?
Tips For Reading:
Once again, take a moment to focus your attention before you start reading. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on, and try to minimize distractions. As you read, notice how the story makes you feel
Summarize the Story
Now that you’ve finished “Olikoye,” pause for a moment to think about what you read. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at the highlights and notes you made while you were reading. Then build your summary by answering the questions below.
Analyze “Olikoye”
Now that you’ve summarized the story, it’s time for the Interpret and Connect steps. By answering questions on this page you’ll continue to build the collection of reading notes that will help you on your next assignment.
Interpret the Meaning
When you interpret the story, you’re thinking about its meaning, and also thinking about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the story. Think about the values you can identify in the character’s actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the story.
PreviewOn My Mind
Our third artifact is a story told in a different form: a short film. Since film includes words, images, and often music, it can be a particularly powerful way to tell stories. Like other artists, filmmakers use elements like tempo, light and shadow, and symbolism to make their audience feel or think in a particular way. Short films, like short fiction, can do a remarkable job of telling a story and communicating a message.
Film Background
On My Mind is a 2018 animated short film created by Shirley Zhou, a Los Angeles–based illustrator and animator. Zhou earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at UCLA’s prestigious Animation Workshop, and she madeOn My Mindduring her second year in the program.On My Mindhas played in film festivals around the world.
Now that you’ve previewed the film, it’s time to watch! Next, you’ll find the film, along with questions to help you summarize the story.
Zhou’s short film On My Mind is linked in your courseroom. Return to this chapter when you are done.
On My Mindtells the story of a young woman going through her day-to-day life in the aftermath of an unexpected life change. As you watch the film, be on the lookout for decision making which is the theme of this chapter—what decisions the main character makes and how they affect her life.
Another important aspect of this film is symbolism. A symbol is an object that stands for or represents something else, and authors or filmmakers often use symbols to communicate meaning in a story. For example, a red rose or flames might symbolize passion and romance; a spring rain might represent a new beginning. A writer, artist, or filmmaker can make anything a symbol–and as a reader or viewer, you might find symbolism and meaning in many different details of a painting or story. So, keep an eye out for symbols inOn My Mindand consider how they help the film’s creator tell the story.
Tips For Watching:
Tips for Watching: Just as you did for reading short stories or listening to music, take a moment to focus yourself. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on. When you watch the video, expand it to the full-screen view if possible. As you watch, notice how the story makes you feel. Jot down notes to help you remember your thoughts and impressions about the story.
Before you continue, view to Leslie Silko’sOn My Mindin the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
On My Mindby Shiley Zhou
Summarize the Story
Now that you’ve finished watchingOn My Mind, pause for a moment to think about what you saw. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at any notes you made while you were watching. Then build your summary by answering the questions below.
Complete your notes onOn My Mindas you interpret the film’s meaning and think about your own connections with it.
AnalyzeOn My Mind
Now it’s time for the Interpret and Connect steps. Start by interpreting: What theme or main idea can you identify in the film? What do you think the writer and director meant to communicate–is this film meant to teach a lesson or change your mind about something? What details in the story back up your interpretation?
Interpret the Meaning
Remember, when you interpret the story, you’re thinking both about its meaning and also about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the film and the story it tells. Think about the values you can identify in the characters’ actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the film.
Great work! Your answers to these questions, and to the questions in the previous sections, will be saved as your reading notes forOn My Mind.
Building Self Awareness
In the stories you’ve just read and watched, decisions play a key role. In “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” the old man’s grandsons decide to ask a priest for help—and the priest decides to perform a ceremony they request of him, even though he doesn’t approve of their reasons for wanting it. In “Olikoye,” the narrator’s father decides not to keep a lost envelope of cash, and the health minister makes a career’s worth of decisions to improve people’s lives. And in the short film “On My Mind,” the main character decides to make small changes in her life that help her overcome a heartbreak.
These decisions are all made in different ways, motivated by different considerations. In Leslie Marmon Silko’s story, decisions are motivated by spiritual belief, the need to care for the dead, and a desire to avoid conflict and keep peace in the community. In “Olikoye,” we’re told that the title character is motivated by a strong system of ethics—he understands right and wrong, and he tries to do the right thing. The woman in “On My Mind” spends time coming to terms with her emotions and uses her strengthened self-awareness to open a new chapter in her life.
Your Decision Making
Stories don’t just give us a window into other people’s experiences; they can also help us understand ourselves better. As you reflect on these stories, consider the kinds of decisions that you’ve had to make in your life. What motivates your decision making? Do you try to act according to your sense of right and wrong? Are you guided by your emotions, or by spiritual beliefs? Do you try to avoid conflict?
Journaling and sketching can help you build the self-awareness necessary for insightful decision making.
Zhou’s short film On My Mind is linked in your courseroom. Return to this chapter when you are done.
Building your self-awareness about your own decision making can actually help you make better decisions and become a better problem solver. Let’s look at how your self-awareness skill can help:
· By encouraging you to slow down and think about actions and consequences.
· By helping you see a conflict from all sides.
· By building empathy for others, helping you see the bias in your own decision-making process.
The more you build your self-awareness, the more open you become to new things. And of course, the more you experience new things, the more you build your self-awareness! It’s also a good idea to engage in reflection through activities like journaling, exercising, or meditation. Deliberate self-discovery can help as well; consider setting goals for yourself, learning more about your own personality, and stretching your mind by reading challenging articles or books.
You’ll continue stretching your mind with the Chapter 5 readings as you explore more short stories!
Chapter 4 in Review
You’ve reached the end of Chapter 4 and you started engaging with a new type of artifact. Just like art and music, stories give us a window into other cultures. They can help us see how cultural values shape people’s lives, including the way they make decisions or approach problem solving.
Here’s a review of what you learned:
· Read about how cultural bias can influence decision making.
· Learned how to connect with stories through the artifact analysis process.
· Read and watched stories set in the mid-20th century American Southwest, 1980s Nigeria, and a city in modern-day China.
· Considered how building your self-awareness can help you improve your decision making and problem solving.
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Exploring Cultures: Adapting in a Global WorldChapter 5: Culture, Customs, and Traditions
Jump to section 1: Introduction.Jump to section 2: Critical Thinking and Cultural Comparison.Jump to section 3: Traditions, Customs, and Beliefs.Jump to section 4: “Gate A-4”.Jump to section 5:Kneidler.Jump to section 6: “Fish Cheeks”.Jump to section 7: Connecting Through Customs.Jump to section 8: Chapter in Review.
CHAPTER 5
Culture, Customs, and Traditions
Introduction
In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The city was flooded, parts of it were flattened, and the people who had managed to escape were refugees, scattered around the Southeast and beyond. After a month, New Orleans had just begun to reopen to its own people. That was the situation in early October when members of the Black Men of Labor benevolent society stepped out into the street to lead the first post-Katrina jazz funeral procession for famous New Orleans chef Austin Leslie (Anderson, 2005). Over a decade has passed and some of Katrina’s effects still echo in New Orleans, but the second lines are back in full force. The video below shows one example from the 2016 funeral of 90–year-old New Orleans resident Mercedes Stevenson.
POINT TO REMEMBERTraditions like funerals, weddings, and holidays help to strengthen and maintain cultural ties.
The funeral traditions of African American communities in New Orleans are an example of a cultural practice so strong and firmly entrenched that it was one of the first ways a shattered population came back together again. Traditions like funerals, weddings, and holidays help to strengthen and maintain cultural ties, and humans have come up with a spectacular variety of traditions around the country and around the world.
Traditions and Culture
In this chapter we’ll be looking at cultural traditions, customs, and beliefs, exploring diverse cultures through photography and short stories. We will:
· Learn how comparing and contrasting can help you analyze artifacts.
· Engage with stories by Naomi Shihab Nye, Frankie Wallach, and Amy Tan.
· Dxamine the ways people connect through customs like food and clothing.
Let’s start by learning more about a part of critical thinking you’ll need for your second assignment: identifying similarities and differences, also known as comparing and contrasting.
Critical Thinking and Cultural Comparison
Throughout this course, you’ve been engaging with artifacts as a way of expanding your cultural lens and broadening your perspective. At the same time, you’ve been honing your critical thinking skill by following a step-by-step process to analyze each artifact. We’ll be practicing another facet of critical thinking: comparing and contrasting artifacts and cultures, which involves careful consideration of how two things are alike and different. We’ll also review some strategies that can be helpful as you think critically and learn more about values that are different from your own.
Similarities and Differences
When you compare two artifacts, you’re trying to identify how they’re alike and how they’re different. Comparison is a valuable tool to have in your critical thinking toolbox. It can help you make decisions, like what phone to buy or which daycare to choose for your child. It will also help you in school, since many assignments will ask you to compare and contrast things like concepts, events, or strategies. For your second assignment in this course, you will identify similarities and differences between two of the stories you’ve read.
Comparison is a valuable tool, whether choosing which type of peanut butter to purchase or selecting a new school to attend.
When you need to compare and contrast two things, start by deciding on a few specific elements to look at. For something like buying a phone, you might decide to compare cost, data storage, and size. For an assignment asking you to compare two stories, you might decide to compare characters, plot, cultural values, and relevant plot details (for example, the stories in Chapter 4, you would note what decisions the characters made). Focusing your comparison on specific aspects will help you make sure you’re comparing two of the same type of thing–comparing two decisions to see how they differ, for example, instead of trying to compare a decision and a cultural custom. This also helps the task of comparison feel less overwhelming.
Once you’ve decided what to compare and contrast, take notes. A simple chart is a great way to visualize similarities and differences. A chart will also give you a reference as you make your decision, write your essay, or answer your assignment questions.
Critical Thinking Habits
The main way you’re developing your critical thinking skill in this course is by using a step-by-step process to analyze artifacts. As we just discussed, sometimes your artifact analysis will involve aspects of critical thinking like comparing and contrasting. Whatever form it takes, critical thinking can help you see the perspective of others; it can help you understand your own culture, and other cultures, more deeply.
In many ways, critical thinking is a process of staying curious about the world around you. It helps you discover what youdon’tknow and figure out what questions you need to ask, which is a valuable part of learning. As you continue to learn about diverse cultural perspectives, here are a few habits or strategies that will help you remember to think critically and stay open to new ideas:
· Ask questions:Don’t just accept what you think you know. Ask yourself how you know it. There’s always more to learn.
· Question assumptions:As you explore your own cultural lens, you’ll identify your own core assumptions. Question your assumptions and be on the lookout for other people’s. Make sure your assumptions are supported by facts and line up with your values.
· Examine other points of view:As you learn more about other cultures, it can help to try to see the world through the eyes of someone whose experiences, beliefs, and values are different from your own.
· Gather information:Look for information from reputable sources. When you’re learning more about a new culture, listen to voices from the culture itself. Stay open to information that might contradict your own assumptions. Explore authors or ideas you find interesting.
Remember, critical thinking is a skill that enhances every aspect of your life. At work, it can help you prioritize projects and identify innovative solutions to problems. At home, it can help you figure out the pros and cons for important decisions (or even less important ones, like which shoes to wear). And at school, critical thinking helps with everything from time management to the analytical habits that will help you write effective papers.
In the next section, we’ll practice some of these critical thinking habits as we look at beliefs, customs, and traditions in different cultures.
Traditions, Customs, and Beliefs
In this chapter, we’re focusing on traditions, customs, and beliefs. These are three important—and closely related—aspects of culture. Traditions keep families and communities connected. Customs provide shared ways of behaving, working, and even celebrating milestones. And our core beliefs structure how we see the world around us and connect closely with our cultural values. Let’s look at each aspect more closely.
Traditions
Traditions are ways of thinking and doing things that are passed down through generations—and in this more general sense, the category of traditions includes both customs and beliefs. When we think of specific traditions, though, we might think of annual holidays, or about how a family or a culture celebrates milestones like weddings or funerals.
Dyeing eggs to celebrate Easter is an example of a tradition.
Traditions are ways of thinking and doing things that are passed down through generations—and in this more general sense, the category of traditions includes both customs and beliefs. When we think of specific traditions, though, we might think of annual holidays, or about how a family or a culture celebrates milestones like weddings or funerals.
Think about what traditions are important to you. They might be holiday traditions that many others in your culture celebrate, like Easter, Passover, or Eid al-Fitr. They might be smaller family traditions, like getting ice cream cones every year on the last day of school. Whether they’re big or small, traditions are an important aspect of a culture. By looking closely at traditions, we can often identify key cultural values.
Customs
Waving when you see someone you know, celebrating your birthday by blowing out candles on a cake, including a cover letter with your résumé when you apply for a job—these are all customs that are specific to particular cultures. Customs are ways of behaving that are expected of people in a society.
Waving to greet someone is an example of a custom specific to certain cultures.
Customs, at least in the sense we’re talking about here, aren’t laws. But each culture has accepted ways of doing things, and customs can be some of the most immediately apparent differences between two cultures. Even eating, one of the most basic human activities, is full of customs. The utensils you use to pick up food, whether food is served communally or individually, and whether a particular person must begin eating first are just a few of the cultural customs in play during a meal. The food itself—what it is and how it’s cooked—is also an important cultural custom, and one we’ll be returning to later in this chapter.
Beliefs
Chances are, you hold some beliefs that help you make sense of the world you live in. These might be religious beliefs, involving the role of divine power in the universe. They might be beliefs involving laws of the natural world—when you let go of a pencil, it’s going to fall to the ground every single time. You probably hold many different beliefs, ranging from superstitions to political ideals.
You may have been raised to believe that people should help others by volunteering.
Some beliefs come from family. You may have been raised to believe that people should help others who are in need, for example, and that might be a belief that you still hold as an adult. Education and personal experiences then shape and change the beliefs you grew up with. For example, although you may have grown up believing that children should always follow their parents’ authority, when you have children of your own and read about parenting strategies, your beliefs about child-rearing may change.
Connecting with Cultures
Why is it important to learn about cultural beliefs, customs, and traditions? For one thing, they can provide a window into cultural values. Elaborate graduation celebrations, for example, might signal a culture that values education. Wearing specific items of clothing due to religious beliefs might signal a culture that values spiritual devotion.
Learning more about the cultural values and traditions of people around you is another way of widening your cultural lens. When you know more about customs, you may feel more comfortable around people whose behavior seems unfamiliar or strange to you. And knowing that each culture—including your own!—has particular customs can help build empathy for people who are navigating a culture with customs that are different. As the workplace and the wider world become more globally connected, we have the opportunity to engage with people of different cultural backgrounds. If you stay open to learning new things, you’ll see cultural similarities and differences as an opportunity to build new connections with the people around you.
In the next section, you’ll read some background information about your first artifact of the chapter—a narrative or story poem titled “Gate A-4.” When you get to the story, see if you can identify any traditions, customs, or beliefs displayed by the main characters.
“Gate A-4”
Preview “Gate A-4”
Your first story this is in the form of a narrative poem. Written in 2008, the poem describes the experiences of two women who are both waiting for the same delayed flight from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to El Paso, Texas. Cultural differences play a role in the poem, but so do cultural connections. Remember, your first step for engaging with a new story is to preview it. Start by reading some background about the author.
Story Background
“Gate A-4” was written by Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), an award-winning Arab-American poet, essayist, and educator. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and divided her time growing up between Texas and Palestine. She has undertaken cultural missions to the Middle East and Asia on behalf of the United States Information Agency to encourage international unity through the arts. Currently she lives in San Antonio, Texas, and teaches creative writing at Texas State University (Barclay Agency, n.d.).
Now that you’ve previewed the text and started building your notes, it’s time to read “Gate A-4.” Remember, these artifacts feature cultural customs and traditions, so keep an eye out for the role they play in the story.
Now that you’ve previewed Naomi Shihab Nye’s narrative poem, it’s time to read. As you read, remember to look for the topic of customs and traditions. What customs or traditions can you identify in the story? How do they help the characters connect with one another?
Read “Gate A-4”
Tips for Reading:Just as you did with the stories from Chapter 4, take a moment to focus your attention before you start reading. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on, and try to minimize distractions. As you read, notice how the poem makes you feel.
Before you continue, read “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye in the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
Mamool is a traditional Middle Eastern pastry or cookie that can be made with dates, figs, pistachios, walnuts, and occasionally almonds.
Summarize the Story
Now that you’ve finished “Gate A-4,” pause for a moment to think about what you read. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at the highlights and notes you made while you were reading. Then build your summary by answering the questions below.
Now that you’ve summarized the story, your next step is to interpret its meaning and consider your connections with it. Questions on the next page will walk you through the rest of your analysis.
Analyze “Gate A-4”
Once you’ve noted what happens in the story, it’s time to dig deeper with the Interpret and Connect steps. Start by interpreting: What theme or main idea can you identify in the story? What do you think the author meant to communicate—is this story meant to teach a lesson or change your mind about something? What details in the story back up your interpretation?
Interpret It
When you interpret the story, you’re thinking about its meaning, and also thinking about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the story. Think about the customs and traditions in the story, and what cultural values you could identify. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the story.
Next, we’re going to watch a short film that will help us think more closely about a key aspect of culture: food.
Kneidler
PreviewKneidler
Our next story is a short film featuring a grandmother and granddaughter sharing cultural traditions through food.
Before we find out more about the film, let’s pause to consider food as an element of culture. Earlier in the chapter we described a few of the many cultural customs present in a single meal, from how the food is served to how it gets picked up. All cultures have unique foodways, a term which includes the types of food eaten, the methods of food preparation, and even the table manners expected when food is served. Studying foodways can often provide insight into cultural values, and foodways—like other customs and traditions—can be used to strengthen community relationships and mark important events.
Film Background
The Grandmas Project is a web series that invites young filmmakers to create an eight-minute film featuring their own grandmother cooking or explaining a significant recipe (Grandmas Project, n.d.). The Grandmas Project is the brainchild of French filmmaker Jonas Pariente. Pariente came up with the idea after filming each of his grandmothers as a way of preserving “both the diversity and the unity found within my two different heritages” (My Beautiful Europe, 2018). Frankie Wallach is the filmmaker and actress credited with this entry,Kneidler, from 2017. Wallach is from France, and her grandmother Julia is a Polish Holocaust survivor (Grandmas Project, n.d.).
InKneidler, you will meet 93-year-old Julia Wallach and her granddaughter, Frankie (who is 23 and, as you just read, the creator of this film).Kneidler, also known as matzo balls, are a traditional Jewish recipe often made for the Passover holiday (Marks, 1999). The dish has symbolic value for the Jewish community due to its use of matzo meal, or crumbs from unleavened bread—an important part of Passover beliefs and traditions. As you watch the film, try to identify particular customs and traditions that Julia and Frankie share. What role do foodways and other family traditions play in the episode? Consider how alike or different your culture’s foodways are from the ones shown inKneidler.
Tips for Viewing:Just as you did with the short film, take a moment to focus yourself. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on. When you watch the video, expand it to the full-screen view if possible. As you watch, notice how the film makes you feel. Jot down notes to help you remember your thoughts and impressions about the story.
This film is in French with English subtitles. Click thegear symbolat the bottom of the player to open settings on the YouTube player, then chooseEnglishfrom the subtitle/CC options.
Before you continue, viewKneidlerin the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
WatchKneidler
By Frankie Wallach
Now that you’ve watchedKneidler, it may help to read a little more context about a key detail of the film. Julia Wallach is a survivor of the Holocaust, which took place in Europe during World War II. The Holocaust resulted from the efforts of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to systematically imprison and kill populations they believed were racially inferior (Taylor, 2011). These efforts focused particularly on Jews, and included dehumanizing propaganda campaigns, laws that deprived Jews of property and basic rights, imprisonment in concentration camps, and mass executions. Historians estimate that the Nazis killed nearly 6 million Jews before their defeat in 1945 (Taylor, 2011). When Julia Wallach refers to peeling potatoes in “the camps,” she is remembering her time in concentration camps; the number that she shows Frankie on her arm was tattooed there by the Nazis to identify her.
Summarize the Story
Pause now for a moment to think about the film you just watched. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at any notes you made during the film.
AnalyzeKneidler
Now it’s time for the Interpret and Connect steps. Start by interpreting: What theme or main idea can you identify in the film? What do you think the writer and director meant to communicate—is this film meant to teach a lesson or change your mind about something? What details in the story back up your interpretation?
Interpret the Meaning
Remember, when you interpret the story, you’re thinking about its meaning, and also about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the film and the story it tells. Think about the values you can identify in the characters’ actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the film.
“Fish Cheeks”
Preview “Fish Cheeks”
Now it’s time to read a short story in which cultural foodways play a key role: Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks.” Take a moment first to preview it by reading some background information about the author and the story.
Story Background
“Fish Cheeks” is a 1987 personal essay by Amy Tan (b. 1952), an acclaimed Chinese American writer. After college, Tan initially worked as a technical writer, but quickly found success as a novelist. Her novels and writing often focus on the immigrant experience of Chinese American families, particularly children of immigrants facing generational and cultural conflicts, and they are popular in many cultures around the world. She often focuses on the inner lives of multigenerational women–mothers and daughters and their conflicted interactions. “Fish Cheeks” was originally published in Seventeen magazine in 1987 (Tikkanen, 2020).
Now you’re ready to read the final story of this chapter. Remember, this chapter’s topic is customs and traditions. As you read, notice how the narrator’s family customs and traditions affect her point of view. Consider how this is similar to—or different from—the role of customs and traditions in the other stories you’ve read or watched.
Tips For Reading:
Read and summarize your next story, “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan. You can find the link to this short story in the courseroom. Return to this chapter when you’re done.
Summarize the Story
You’ve just read Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks.” Pause for a moment to think about the story. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at the highlights and notes you made while you were reading.
Your next step is to interpret its meaning and consider your connections with it. Questions on the next page will walk you through the rest of your analysis.
Analyze “Fish Cheeks”
Now it’s time for the Interpret and Connect steps. Start by interpreting: What theme or main idea can you identify in the story? What do you think the author meant to communicate–is this story meant to teach a lesson or change your mind about something? What details in the story back up your interpretation?
Interpret the Meaning
Remember, when you interpret the story, you’re thinking about its meaning, and also thinking about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Before you continue, read “Fish Cheeks” in the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the story. Think about the values you can identify in the character’s actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the story.
Connecting Through Customs
In this chapter, you’ve engaged with stories that feature people connecting through customs and traditions they share. In “Gate A-4,” for example, the narrator is able to connect with the older woman through shared language, and also through cultural practices that remind her of her own family, like carrying a plant on a journey. All three stories this chapter involved food, so let’s take a moment to note the role played by foodways—that is, a culture’s eating habits and cooking practices—in the stories.
Food as Connection
As we just discussed, the two main characters in Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Gate A-4” connect in a few different ways. As they wait for the delayed flight toward the poem’s end, though, food helps to connect them with the other women at gate A-4. They share traditional Palestinian cookies, and in doing so they connect with one another despite their differences. Everyone is covered in powdered sugar by the time they board their flight!
InKneidler, traditions of food and cooking again help to strengthen bonds, this time between two generations in the same family. As Julia Wallach shows her granddaughter Frankie how to make chicken soup, she also shares stories of her life, including her time in a concentration camp. This helps to ensure that both the recipes and the stories carry on in their family and in their culture.
In “Fish Cheeks,” Chinese American foodways serve as a mark of difference as well as connection. The family’s foodways—both the food itself and the accepted way of eating it—make the narrator feel different from their Christmas Eve guests. But the strength of those foodways is part of how her family maintains its cultural identity.
Foodways, of course, are just one of many customs and traditions that help connect and strengthen cultures. We’ve seen others in the stories we’ve read so far, even in the previous chapter—think of the funeral practices in “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” or of how unusual it was in “Olikoye” for the narrator to want to give her child a name from a different ethnic group.
Clothing is also often an important cultural custom and tradition. Let’s look next at clothing as a way of expressing cultural beliefs, customs, and traditions.
Tips For Reading:
Once again, take a moment to focus your attention before you start reading. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on, and try to minimize distractions. As you read, notice how the story makes you feel.
Clothing as Culture
Like food, clothing is something that serves a physical need—we need to stay warm and protect our skin, just as we need to fuel our bodies with food and water. But clothing is also part of cultural customs and traditions, and an indicator of belonging to a particular group. It plays a role in many religious traditions, such as the vestments worn by Roman Catholic priests or the hijab worn by many Muslim women. And while people all around the world now often wear jeans and t-shirts, most cultures still have traditional dress that helps them maintain and transmit a cultural identity. The narrator of “Gate A-4,” for example, feels immediately connected to the old woman because she’s dressed in the same way as her Palestinian grandmother. And in “Fish Cheeks,” Amy Tan vividly remembers wanting the miniskirt that would help her fit in with her peers.
Mixing Cultures
One of the beauties of our diverse and increasingly global world is being able to engage with many cultures, not just our own. We can listen to music made in Mali on our way to pickup takeout Thai noodles, which we can eat while we watch a TV show made in Ireland. We can wear jewelry or sandals that have their origins in cultures other than our own. And, as we’re doing in this course, we can engage with the artifacts of different cultures as a way of trying to understand our fellow humans better.
Even while we’re exploring other cultures, though, it’s important to avoid cultural appropriation. This may be a term you’re already familiar with. It’s been a hot-button issue in recent years–for example, in cases where white recording artists have profited from dance moves created by Black performers (Berlatsky, 2015). Other cases involve chefs opening restaurants or publishing recipes without giving credit to the cultural traditions those foods come from (Cheung, 2015).
Essentially, cultural appropriation involves taking aspects of someone else’s culture and claiming them as your own. One way to avoid it is to remember what you’ve learned in school: Cite your sources! When you borrow from other cultures, acknowledge the traditions that produced what you borrow. It’s also critically important to remember that one culture’s sacred object or religious signifier, whether it’s a Native American headdress or a Sikh turban, shouldn’t be used by someone who isn’t a part of that tradition–and most definitely shouldn’t be worn as a costume (Avins, 2015).
Respect is the key as you engage with other cultures. Whether you’re in the workplace, at school, or out exploring the world, remember to respect the people you meet–along with their customs, beliefs, and traditions.
Chapter 5 in Review
In this chapter you explored beliefs, customs, and traditions—all vitally important parts of any culture. Our beliefs help us make sense of the world and guide us in our interactions with it. Our traditions help us stay connected to the generations before and after us. And our customs provide shared actions and ways of behaving that help us communicate with one another. When we learn more about these aspects of cultures other than our own, we open ourselves to a broader understanding of the world.
Here’s a roundup of what you learned:
· Read about beliefs, customs, and traditions.
· Developed your problem solving skill by considering the importance of comparing and contrasting as part of critical thinking.
· Engaged with stories featuring beliefs, traditions, and customs from diverse cultures.
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Exploring Cultures: Adapting in a Global WorldChapter 6: Hero Stories
Jump to section 1: Introduction.Jump to section 2: Resolving Conflict With Stories.Jump to section 3: Hero Stories.Jump to section 4: “David and Goliath”.Jump to section 5: “The Legend of Nanabozho”.Jump to section 6:Hair Love.Jump to section 7: Chapter in review.
CHAPTER 6
Hero Stories
Introduction
As you read in Chapter 5, stories often have a universal theme–a central idea, lesson, or topic that readers can take and apply to their own lives. Some common themes in stories include coming of age (which we saw in Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks”) or death and rebirth (which we saw in Leslie Marmon Silko’s “A Man to Send Rain Clouds”). We’ll be looking at one theme in particular that resonates across many cultures: heroism. We will
· Explore how stories help with conflict resolution.
· Examine the role of hero stories in popular culture.
· Engage with three different hero stories and consider heroic qualities.
· Consider how hero stories can help improve your problem solving skill.
Resolving Conflict With Stories
As we’ve been learning over the past few chapters, storytelling is an essential part of human culture. Stories help children learn morals and figure out how to make ethical decisions. As teaching tools, they’re an important part of passing traditions down from one generation to the next. Stories written by people a long time ago can help us discover our own past; stories that we write today will help future generations know us—and know themselves—better.
Stories and storytellers captivate children while passing traditions down from one generation to the next.
One of the most common themes we find in stories is conflict. Stories as connected series of events are often structured around a conflict. The conflict builds through the early part of the story, comes to a crisis point at the story’s climax, and then generally gets resolved by the end, even if the resolution is an unhappy one. It shows up in myths, legends, and fairy tales–think of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, for example. Conflict between good and evil even plays a prominent role in many religious beliefs around the world.
Why does conflict structure so many of our stories? Perhaps because it’s such a universal experience. Whether it’s on the massive and destructive scale of warfare or the tiny and aggravating scale of siblings bickering with each other, conflict is part of the human past and the human present. The good news is that conflict resolution is just as much a part of who we are.
PAUSE AND THINKWhat role does conflict play in a story?
Throughout this course, you’re learning habits and strategies that contribute to effective conflict resolution. Thinking critically and challenging your own assumptions help you to understand the causes of conflicts and consider the ramifications of various solutions. And building connections with others helps you commit more fully to finding solutions to conflicts when they arise. Part of how we build those connections with people from other cultures is through stories about things we have in common. With our stories in this chapter, we’ll be looking at one particularly common theme across cultures: heroes.
Hero Stories
If you look at modern popular culture, it’s not hard to tell that people love hero stories. We love movies about heroes, like Star Wars and Moana. We love news stories with a hero who saves the day, like Bridger Walker when he protected his little sister, or like Captain “Sully” Sullenberger when he successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson River in 2009, saving everyone on board. We love heroes so much that we came up with superheroes, who use their supernatural abilities to fight against evil forces.
Ulysses and Sirens(mosaic, 2nd century AD). The Odyssey is a hero story from ancient Greece, in which we follow the hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca, on his journey home after the Trojan War.
The heroes of current pop culture are part of a long cultural tradition. Some of the earliest stories that survive are heroic epics, such as the ancient SumerianEpic of Gilgamesh(ca. 1600 BCE) or the GreekIliadandOdyssey(ca. 700 BCE). Epic stories of heroes were often part of oral traditions in which trained poets or storytellers verbally passed stories down through generations. The ancient epics we know today are the ones that were eventually written down, which helped them survive the centuries.
What Makes a Hero?
Clearly, heroes are compelling figures. This may be because hero stories tend to follow certain patterns. In the 1940s, literature scholar Joseph Campbell wrote about the hero’s journey, a sequence of events that he identified in stories from around the world. Heroes, for example, often start as part of the ordinary world. They’re called to go on a quest or adventure that involves traveling from the known to the unknown–and as part of this process, they realize that they have a greater purpose to fulfill. As their confidence and sense of self grows, they face challenges, temptations, and battles. Finally they return to the ordinary world, transformed. These adventures show that not only can people triumph over enemies, but they can use hard work to grow and develop the skills they need to succeed.
POINT TO REMEMBERHero stories show that people can use hard work to grow and develop the skills they need to succeed.
Clearly, heroes are compelling figures. This may be because hero stories tend to follow certain patterns. In the 1940s, literature scholar Joseph Campbell wrote about the hero’s journey, a sequence of events that he identified in stories from around the world. Heroes, for example, often start as part of the ordinary world. They’re called to go on a quest or adventure that involves traveling from the known to the unknown–and as part of this process, they realize that they have a greater purpose to fulfill. As their confidence and sense of self grows, they face challenges, temptations, and battles. Finally they return to the ordinary world, transformed. These adventures show that not only can people triumph over enemies, but they can use hard work to grow and develop the skills they need to succeed.
The pattern of hero stories is part of our cultural perspective–it’s something so fundamentally part of our culture that we’re exposed to it from childhood on. We know what to expect overall when we watch a newStar Warsinstallment or the latest superhero movie, even though some of the details might surprise us. Researchers have found that people prefer listening to music that contains a few unexpected elements mixed in with familiar patterns (Gold et al., 2019). Maybe the same idea is at work with hero stories–it feels good to be surprised while also being pretty sure that the hero will still save the day.
Types of Heroes
Although hero stories have some things in common, not all heroes are the same. When you think of a hero, what may come to mind is the classic warrior hero who uses strength, skill, and bravery to defeat an enemy. There are many kinds of heroes, though, and in this chapter we’ll be looking at hero stories featuring a variety of heroic qualities:
· Underdog heroeswho don’t fit the mold of a warrior but still meet a challenge with courage, like David from “David and Goliath”.
· Teaching heroeswho help humanity by being wise and providing essential tools, like the Native American hero Wanabozho.
· Everyday heroeswho don’t have special abilities but still perform heroic deeds for the people around them, like we’ll see in the short film Hair Love.
Learning From Heroes
Like all stories, hero stories can also help us broaden our cultural perspectives. We can explore the similarities and differences between heroic qualities from different cultures, practicing the comparing and contrasting that we worked on in Chapter 5. We can also look to heroes for examples of problem solving and critical thinking.
No matter what their specific qualities are, people are defined as heroes when they face and overcome serious challenges. Most heroes are problem solvers. They use their particular talents—strength, courage, innovative thinking—to work through difficult situations. They use critical thinking to figure out which strategies will get the best result. Problem solving may not sound like an exciting and heroic activity, but it’s an essential part of any hero story!
On the next page, you’ll read some background information about your first artifact in this chapter–the story of “David and Goliath,” which you may already know! When you get to the story, see if you can identify the heroic qualities that the characters display.
“David and Goliath”
Preview “David and Goliath”
Our first story is a classic hero tale that you may already be familiar with. On this page, you’ll preview it by considering some background information. Then you’ll build your notes as you read and analyze the story.
Story Background
The story of David and Goliath comes from the Hebrew Bible, a collection of writings that form the basis for both the Jewish and Christian religions. More specifically, it comes from the first book of Samuel, one of several books of the Bible that tell the ancient history of the Jewish people (Grant, Fredrickson, et al., 2020). The first book of Samuel tells the 3,000-year-old story of Samuel, a holy man and prophet; of Saul, who was anointed King of Israel by Samuel; and of David, a young shepherd from Bethlehem who rose to a prominent place in Saul’s court. We don’t know who recorded the story, but scholars think it was written down between 600 and 500 BCE (Grant, Fredrickson, et al., 2020). Like other chapters of the Old Testament, the book of Samuel was written in Hebrew and later translated into Greek, Latin, and eventually other languages such as English (Harmon and Holman, 2003).
The Bible is a sacred text to people around the world, but it has also had profound influence on literature–and that’s how we’ll be approaching the story of David and Goliath. Like any religious text, the Bible can be studied as a work of literature by reading closely and identifying common literary elements (such as symbolism, allegory, plot, setting, and poetic devices like meter or rhyme). Literary analysis focuses on a close study of the text itself and how it is constructed to create meaning rather than on the religious significance or implications of the text (Crain, 2010).
Now that you’ve previewed the text, it’s time to read the story. The questions in the webtext will help you continue to build your reading notes.
Read your next story, “David and Goliath” from the first book of Samuel.
Now that you’ve previewed this story, it’s time to dive in. As we just discussed, you may already be familiar with what happens in this story, even if you haven’t read the story itself. Try to approach it with fresh eyes, though, and consider what kind of heroic qualities David needs in the story.
Tips for reading:Once again, take a moment to focus your attention before you start reading. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on, and try to minimize distractions. As you read, notice how the story makes you feel.
David and Goliath
1 Samuel 17: 1–37
The Philistines gathered their troops for battle. They assembled at Socoh in Judah. They camped in Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah.2Saul and the Israelite army assembled and camped in the valley of Elah, where they arranged their battle lines to fight against the Philistines.3The Philistines were standing on one hill, and the Israelites on another hill, with the valley between them.
4Then a champion came out from the camp of the Philistines. His name was Goliath; he was from Gath. He was close to seven feet tall.5He had a bronze helmet on his head and was wearing scale body armor. The weight of his bronze body armor was 5,000 shekels.6He had bronze shin guards on his legs, and a bronze javelin was slung over his shoulders.7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the iron point of his spear weighed 600 shekels. His shield bearer was walking before him.
8Goliath stood and called to Israel’s troops, “Why do you come out to prepare for battle? Am I not the Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose for yourselves a man so he may come down to me!9If he is able to fight with me and strike me down, we will become your servants. But if I prevail against him and strike him down, you will become our servants and will serve us.”10Then the Philistine said, “I defy Israel’s troops this day! Give me a man so we can fight each other!”11When Saul and all the Israelites heard these words of the Philistine, they were upset and very afraid.
Above image: According to Biblical historians, Saul (c. 1020 BCE, shown here in a 19th century sculpture by William Wetmore Story) was the first ruler of the kingdom of Israel. He united Israelite tribes under threat from the Philistines and was eventually killed in battle.
12Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse from Bethlehem in Judah. He had eight sons, and in Saul’s days he was old and well advanced in years.13Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to war. The names of the three sons who went to war were Eliab, his firstborn, Abinadab, the second oldest; and Shammah, the third oldest.14Now David was the youngest. While the three oldest sons followed Saul,15David was going back and forth from Saul in order to care for his father’s sheep in Bethlehem.
16Meanwhile for forty days the Philistine approached every morning and evening and took his position.17Jesse said to his son David, “Take your brothers this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread; go quickly to the camp to your brothers.18Also take these ten portions of cheese to their commanding officer. Find out how your brothers are doing and bring back their pledge that they received the goods.19They are with Saul and the whole Israelite army in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.”
20So David got up early in the morning and entrusted the flock to someone else who would watch over it. After loading up, he went just as Jesse had instructed him. He arrived at the camp as the army was going out to the battle lines shouting its battle cry.21Israel and the Philistines drew up their battle lines opposite one another.22After David had entrusted his cargo to the care of the supply officer, he ran to the battlefront. When he arrived, he asked his brothers how they were doing.23As he was speaking with them, the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, was coming up from the battle lines of the Philistines. He spoke the way he usually did, and David heard it.24When all the men of Israel saw this man, they retreated from his presence and were very afraid.
25The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? He does so to defy Israel. But the king will make the man who can strike him down very wealthy! He will give him his daughter in marriage, and he will make his father’s house exempt from tax obligations in Israel.”
26David asked the men who were standing near him, “What will be done for the man who strikes down this Philistine and frees Israel from this humiliation? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he defies the armies of the living God?”27The soldiers told him what had been promised, saying, “This is what will be done for the man who can strike him down.”
28When David’s oldest brother Eliab heard him speaking to the men, he became angry with David and said, “Why have you come down here? To whom did you entrust those few sheep in the wilderness? I am familiar with your pride and deceit! You have come down here to watch the battle.”
29David replied, “What have I done now? Can’t I say anything?”30Then he turned from those who were nearby to someone else and asked the same question, but they gave him the same answer as before.31When David’s words were overheard and reported to Saul, he called for him.
32David said to Saul, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged. Your servant will go and fight this Philistine!”33But Saul replied to David, “You aren’t able to go against this Philistine and fight him. You’re just a boy! He has been a warrior from his youth.”
34David replied to Saul, “Your servant has been a shepherd for his father’s flock. Whenever a lion or bear would come and carry off a sheep from the flock,35I would go out after it, strike it down, and rescue the sheep from its mouth. If it rose up against me, I would grab it by its jaw, strike it, and kill it.36Your servant has struck down both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”37David went on to say, “The Lord who delivered me from the lion and the bear will also deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Then Saul said to David, “Go! The Lord will be with you.”
38Then Saul clothed David with his own fighting attire and put a bronze helmet on his head. He also put body armor on him.39David strapped on his sword over his fighting attire and tried to walk around, but he was not used to them. David said to Saul, “I can’t walk in these things, for I’m not used to them.” So David removed them.40He took his staff in his hand, picked out five smooth stones from the stream, placed them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag, took his sling in hand, and approached the Philistine
Above image: Like other shepherds at the time, David used a sling and stones to protect his flock from predators. The sling was a highly effective and accurate weapon, and soldiers even used it in battle.
38Then Saul clothed David with his own fighting attire and put a bronze helmet on his head. He also put body armor on him.39David strapped on his sword over his fighting attire and tried to walk around, but he was not used to them. David said to Saul, “I can’t walk in these things, for I’m not used to them.” So David removed them.40He took his staff in his hand, picked out five smooth stones from the stream, placed them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag, took his sling in hand, and approached the Philistine.
41The Philistine, with his shield bearer walking in front of him, kept coming closer to David.42When the Philistine looked carefully at David, he despised him, for he was only a ruddy and handsome boy.43The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you are coming after me with sticks?” Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods.44The Philistine said to David, “Come here to me, so I can give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the field!”
41The Philistine, with his shield bearer walking in front of him, kept coming closer to David.42When the Philistine looked carefully at David, he despised him, for he was only a ruddy and handsome boy.43The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you are coming after me with sticks?” Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods.44The Philistine said to David, “Come here to me, so I can give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the field!”
Above image: The javelin was considered an advanced weapon. Made of metal and tapered to a sharp point, it could be hurled to strike enemies from a distance.
45But David replied to the Philistine, “You are coming against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I am coming against you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel’s armies, whom you have defied!46This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand. I will strike you down and cut off your head. This day I will give the corpses of the Philistine army to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the land. Then all the land will realize that Israel has a God,47and all this assembly will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves! For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will deliver you into our hand.”
48The Philistine drew steadily closer to David to attack him, while David quickly ran toward the battle line to attack the Philistine.49David reached his hand into the bag and took out a stone. He slung it, striking the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank deeply into his forehead, and he fell down with his face to the ground.
50David prevailed over the Philistine with just the sling and the stone. He struck down the Philistine and killed him. David did not even have a sword in his hand.51David ran and stood over the Philistine. He grabbed Goliath’s sword, drew it from its sheath, and after killing him, he cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they ran away.
Above image: David’s moment of triumph over Goliath has been a favorite subject of artists for centuries, as we can see in this 1866 etching.
52Then the men of Israel and Judah charged forward, shouting a battle cry. They chased the Philistines to the valley and to the very gates of Ekron. The Philistine corpses lay fallen along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron.53When the Israelites returned from their hot pursuit of the Philistines, they looted their camp.54David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put Goliath’s weapons in his tent.
55Now as Saul watched David going out to fight the Philistine, he asked Abner, the general in command of the army, “Whose son is that young man, Abner?” Abner replied, “As surely as you live, O king, I don’t know.”56The king said, “Find out whose son this boy is.”
57So when David returned from striking down the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul. He still had the head of the Philistine in his hand.58Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” David replied, “I am the son of your servant Jesse in Bethlehem.”
1 Samuel 17:1–58 quoted by permission from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996, 2019 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com. All rights reserved.
Summarize the Story
You’ve just read “David and Goliath” from the book of Samuel in the Bible. Pause for a moment to think about the story. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at the highlights and notes you made while you were reading. Then build your summary by answering the questions below.
Now that you’ve summarized the story, your next step is to interpret its meaning and consider your connections with it. Questions on the next page will walk you through the rest of your analysis.
Analyze “David and Goliath”
Once you’ve noted what happens in the story, it’s time to dig deeper with the Interpret and Connect steps. Start by interpreting: What theme or main idea can you identify in the story? What do you think the author meant to communicate—is this story meant to teach a lesson or change your mind about something? What details in the story back up your interpretation?
Interpret the Meaning
When you interpret the story, you’re thinking about its meaning, and also thinking about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Use the writing template tool by returning to your webtext.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the story. Think about the values you can identify in the character’s actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the story.
Use the writing template tool by returning to your webtext.
As in previous chapters, your answers to these questions, and to the questions on the previous pages, will be saved as your reading notes.
Next we’ll read a story featuring a figure who doesn’t battle giants, but still serves as a hero to his people.
“The Legend of Nanabozho”
Preview “The Legend of Nanaboozho”
You just read “David and Goliath,” a biblical hero story from the book of Samuel. Our next story comes from a Native American cultural tradition, and it describes a different type of hero. As usual, we’ll start by previewing it with some background information.
Story Background
“The Legend of Nanabozho” is told by Aboriginal storyteller, Alanis Obomsawin who tells the story of Nokomis and Winona and the birth of Nanabozho. Another Native American writer, Anne M. Dunn, has turned Nanabozho into a short story called “The Birth of Wanabozho.” Dunn says about the importance of stories, “If our kids don’t have their stories they’re going to get lost on the journey. Lost. We should be passing them on to our young people so they’ll have something to hold onto when they reach that dark hole. Because everybody’s going to be there some time. There’s a dark hole for all of us” (MPR News, 2016).
Now that you’ve previewed the text, it’s time to listen to the story. The questions in the chapter will help you continue to build your reading notes.
The link to listen to the story, “The Legend of Nanabozho” as told by Alanis Obomsawin, can be found in the courseroom. Return to this chapter when you’re done.
Remember to keep an eye out for the topic of heroes. How do the heroic qualities in this story compare to the heroic qualities in “David and Goliath”?
Tips for Listening:
Take a moment to focus your attention before you begin. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on, and try to minimize distractions. As you read, notice how the story makes you feel and take notes to help you remember your thoughts and impressions about the story.
Before you continue, listen to “The Legend of Nanaboozho” in the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
Summarize The Story
You’ve just listened to “The Legend of Nanabozho.” Pause for a moment to think about the story. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at the highlights and notes you made while you were reading.
Your next step is to interpret its meaning and consider your connections with it. Questions on the next page will walk you through the rest of your analysis.
Analyze “The Legend of Nanabozho”
Now it’s time for the Interpret and Connect steps. Start by interpreting: What theme or main idea can you identify in the story? What do you think the author meant to communicate–is this story meant to teach a lesson or change your mind about something? What details in the story back up your interpretation?
Interpret the Meaning
Remember, when you interpret the story, you’re thinking about its meaning, and also thinking about how the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the story. Think about the values you can identify in the character’s actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the story.
Hair Love
PreviewHair Love
So far, you’ve read about an underdog hero who used agility to battle a giant and about the origins and birth of a wise hero who taught his people how to use fire and care for one another. Now we’re going to consider a third type of hero: the everyday hero. These are the heroes we encounter most often, and for that reason their stories can affect us the most. With what seem like small actions, they make an enormous difference for the people they love.
Your last story of Chapter 6 comes in the form of a short film. Take a moment to preview it by reading some background information about the filmmaker and answering the questions.
Film Background
The creator ofHair Love, Matthew A. Cherry (b. 1981), was born and raised in Chicago and now lives in Los Angeles. Cherry’s first career was as a professional football player, but he left the NFL after an injury. Fortunately, he had earned a degree in media from the University of Akron, and he went to work in the entertainment industry. Cherry is now a writer, director, and producer involved in a variety of television and web series, music videos, and feature films. The 2019 releaseHair Loveis Cherry’s first animated short film, and it won an Academy Award in 2020 (Goist, 2020).
It’s time to watch it. Even though it’s a film instead of a written story, questions in the chapter will still help you create reading notes. Remember to be on the lookout for this chapter’s theme of heroic qualities–as you watch, consider how the characters act as heroes to one another.
Hair Loveis the story of an African American father trying to help his young daughter with her hair in the absence of her mother. The ritual of combing and styling a child’s hair often creates a deep, loving bond, and in African American communities, ornate hairstyles and long styling sessions are frequently a part of growing up (Lewis, 2016). Research has shown that, particularly between Black mothers and daughters, hair styling can be a bonding experience that helps promote healthy parent-child relationships (Lewis, 2016). As you watchHair Love, think about the meaning of the film’s title and about how parents create connections with their children. And remember to look for heroes in the story. Who serves as a hero to the other characters? What kind of heroic qualities do they have?
Tips for Viewing:Just as you did with the previous chapter’s short film, take a moment to focus yourself. Find your quiet place or put your headphones on. When you watch the video, expand it to the full-screen view if possible. As you watch, notice how the film makes you feel. Jot down notes to help you remember your thoughts and impressions about the story.
Before you continue, viewHair Loveby Matthew A. Cherry in the courseroom. Return to this chapter after you have studied this artifact.
Now that you’ve finished the film, a little more context around issues related to the film’s topic may help you with your interpretation. In recent years, the issue of hair discrimination has received increasing attention in U.S. culture. Hair discrimination is a form of racial discrimination. A 2019 study found that African American women in the workplace were more likely than other workers to be sent home because of their hairstyle (Arefin, 2020). There are also numerous instances of Black school children facing detention, expulsion, and other reprimands over their natural hairstyles and textures (Griffith, 2019). In recognition of this pattern of prejudice, some states have recently passed laws that include hairstyle as a protected characteristic, and therefore one that cannot be the basis for any form of discrimination (Arefin, 2020). When Matthew Cherry accepted his Academy Award for Hair Love, he used that moment to advocate for the CROWN Act, an effort to pass state-by-state legislation against hair discrimination (McGregor, 2020).
Summarize the Story
Now that you’ve finished watching Hair Love, pause for a moment to think about what you saw. Notice how you’re feeling. Look back at any notes you made while you were watching.
AnalyzeHair Love
Now it’s time for the Interpret and Connect steps. Start by interpreting: What do you think the writer and director meant to communicate—is this film meant to teach a lesson or change your mind about something? What details in the story back up your interpretation?
Interpret the Meaning
the author’s choices about elements like plot or symbolism help to communicate that meaning to readers. Remember that it’s important to back up your interpretation with evidence from the story, just as you did when you interpreted art and music.
Connect with the Story
Now it’s time to connect with the film and the story it tells. Think about the values you can identify in the characters’ actions or decisions. Then consider how they connect—or don’t connect—with your own. Finally, reflect on how your cultural perspective influenced your response to the film.
Chapter 6 in Review
You’ve done a lot over the past three weeks! You’ve read stories about decision making from diverse cultures, used critical thinking to compare cultures and traditions, and encountered heroes with a variety of problem solving strategies.
Here’s a review of what you learned:
· Read about hero stories as key parts of many cultures.
· Considered heroes as problem solvers and critical thinkers.
· Engaged with ancient and modern hero stories.
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