Themeof Cultural Conflict
Literaryworks have been playing a fundamental role in both the traditionaland contemporary human societies. They usually educate and entertaintheir readers and audiences, but are usually crafted with the aim ofcriticizing the ways of lives in varying societies, as well asestablishing ideas pertaining to the better ways of doing things. Ofparticular note is the fact that societies rarely change and themanner in which things are done remains the same, which case theapplicability of literary works remains quite possible. Needless tosay, the ideas of the authors are usually driven by the themes in thestories. This is the case for cultural conflict that exists betweenmasculinity and femininity in “MiguelStreet”, abook by V.S Naipual. While there may be varying opinions, it isevident that the cultural conflict between masculinity and femininityemanates from the internalization of the characteristics and rolesthat come with these genders.
Masculinityunderlines the possession of qualities that are seen ascharacteristic of boys and men including boldness, vigor andstrength, while femininity implies the possession of qualities thatare seen as characteristic of girls and women including modesty,delicacy, weakness and gentleness (Gardiner56). It is noted that the Miguel Street characters have hadpreconceived notions pertaining to the characteristics that theTrinidadian society spells out regarding the two genders ingrained inthem.
First,the conflict comes up when members of one gender deviate from thedefined characteristics of their genders. This comes out clearly inthe case of Morgan, a pyrotechist who is married and has 10 children.At one time, he was caught by his wife sleeping with another womanand given a thorough beating. Such a thing would not have beenexpected of a man. In the course of beating him, his wife was statingthat “Youis not a anti- man you is real man. You ain’t only make tenchildren with me you going to make more with somebody else”(Naipaul 70). Of course, terming him a real man is sarcasm as no realman would have been beaten by his wife, at least by the standards ofthe Trinidadian society.
Onthe same note, there is the case of Popo, a man who did not makemoney but instead depended on his wife. In spite of the fact thatmasculinity would demand that men work so as to provide for theirfamilies since their wives were relegated to the kitchen, Popo feltthat women liked work, whereas men were not made for work (Naipaul17). This is an upsetting of the normal ways of things pertaining togenders. This brings out the question regarding who of the twogenders defined the other. Of course, men were supposed to definewomen, where the later were only supposed to be identified assomeone’s wife or daughter. However, the fact that the abandonmentof Popo by his wife changes him to the extent that he seems to belosing his mind speaks otherwise. It is because of the upsetting ofwhat would have been the natural order of life especially regardingthe gender roles. It is noteworthy that not only did Popo reek ofcheap liquor every now and then, but also used to cry and get angry.These characteristics would be expected of women rather than men(Adichie 45).
Adichie,Chimamanda Ngozi. "We Should All Be Feminists", New York:4th Estate, print
Naipaul,V S. MiguelStreet.London: A. Deutsch, 1966. Print.
Gardiner,Judith K. MasculinityStudies & Feminist Theory: New Directions.New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.Print