Commentary on the contrast in the novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie between modern ideals and traditional. Society plays a large role in everyday lives- it can dictate how one should think and act in as the “popular opinion”. With this idea in mind it is easy to think that thoughts and opinions are in unison within the world, yet this is not the case. A vast range of ethics and morals spread across the population of Earth there are bound to be both unanimous decisions and conflicts.
The most pressing in aspects current events in ountries around the world would be the argument of modernism and traditionalism. Progression in the world of today is not always met with open arms, and at times new ideas are rejected in favor of perpetuating the traditional way of life and its values. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian helps illustrate the timeless conflict between modern ideas and traditional values. History is the account of events that had occurred in the past- and some people believe that traditional values should become a part of it rather than an active part of todays world.
Others do not support odern ideas and advocate for the opposite and more often than not, both these opinions are present with one another and often with ignorance on both sides. In South Korea, this disagreement is currently deciding the future of their country. Earlier this year, the southeastern country had experienced a demographic shift- in influx of non-Korean immigrant that is prompting the society to decide whether it should be accepting of this change and acclimate to the new or stay with their traditional values (Choe 1).
The majority of its citizens did not accept the outsiders nd xenophobic views were frequently observed (Choe 1). As a formerly homogenous society, inexperience and a lack of knowledge regarding multi-ethnic etiquette as well as tolerance can be sourced as the cause of this “fear” (Choe 2). It was an ignorant public acting prejudice towards immigrants and segregating in social aspects. Cultural pride also prevents acceptance as the “all-Korean” blood within the country is valued and the idea of recognizing where outsiders fit in is difficult for the natives (Choe 2).
While unaccepting attitudes are frequently observed, many Koreans believe hat the change in demographic within the country is favorable: “It’s time to redefine a Korean,” said Kim Yi-seon, chief researcher on multiculturalism at the government- financed Korean Women’s Development Institute. “Traditionally, a Korean meant someone born to Korean parents in Korea, who speaks Korean and has Korean looks and nationality. People don’t think someone is a Korean Just because he has a Korean citizenship. (Choe 1). Inexperience regarding “outsiders” in terms of race and ethnic DacKgrouna were ooservea In soutn Korea, out It was also seen In snerman Alexie’s book. The main character, Junior, had experienced ignorance-based prejudice. The student body at Rearden High School did not know what actual Indians were like- their only information being from the countless stereotypes involving spear-carrying painted warriors- and as a result treated Junior as though he were a novelty.
A certain level of respect is asked of between people, especially when communicating with one another. The students around Junior had believed anything he said about “Indians”, regardless of whether it was true or not without further inquiry- regardless of how far-fetched it was (Alexie 120). Like something akin toa traveling circus, the student body and teachers only see Junior as an Indian from the reservation down the road instead of Just another kid (Alexie 86).
While the decision as to whether or not the school body should accept him did not stand as an issue, the “new’ idea of accepting Junior as another person rather than a novelty item was. The disagreement between modernization- globalization, cultural diffusion, new technologic advancements- and traditionalism- older values, less broad ideals, etc- has been increasingly popular in todays world where countries are beginning to both uestion progression and welcome it with open arms. Positive outcomes have been observed in changing to the modern ideas.
In America, the embracing of multi- ethnicity is more prominent. The 21st Century-esque ideals of cultural diffusion and unity throughout humanity is shown especially in the 2010 Census when people are now acknowledging their “mixed” racial backgrounds and checking off multiple boxes in said section (Basu 1). Citizens are not afraid to be identified as something other than what their skin color indicates, rather a combination of ethnicities as the volving society is encouraging people to explore the idea of identity (Basu 1).
With modern ideas of self-discovery and self-empowerment the population is able to call themselves whatever they feel is appropriate. In addition to positive social changes in the US, there has been an improvement over the years in medicinal practices within Asia. The entirety of the continent is comprised of a history spanning far before any Western ones, and it is not a surprise that with In addition to positive social changes in the US, there has been an improvement in living conditions in Arabic countries as result of modernization. In Kuwait, houses have been updated to better accommodate a comfortable life within.
Cooling systems within the homes have been invented as a result of modern ingenuity and the resources from the country itself (Khalaf 3) as well as domestic privacy as a result of British-influenced architecture and layouts.. In general, the countrys citizens have become more urban, allowing them to keep in touch with the traditions of Islam while updating their lives with new technology to improve it (Khalaf 4). Previously, the living conditions in Kuwait were ess-than-excellent- the product of more traditional-styled architecture that allowed for a primitive lifestyle.
In addition to positive effects, the progression to modern ideals can also lead to negative ones as well. In The Absolutely True Diary ofa Part- Time Indian, Junior experienced alienation from his own tribe on the reservation. As everything he had ever known, for him to be shunned was a major event in his life. He was accused of being a, “white lover” when transferring to a high school off of the reservation for the sole reason of bettering his own education- something he could ot do while on the “rez”.
The transition from “old” reservation ideals to the “new’ outs10e world Is seen as treason ana Junior was consequently seen as a traltor to nls heritage- especially by his peers (Alexie 52). Modern education- being generally unavailable to those on the reservation at the level and quality off- is not accepted in the Indian way of life (Alexie 43). As well as the aforementioned academic-based reason, Junior was also alienated for social reasons. His home with his tribe is one that is unanimously Indian in the people living there and always was.
Although Junior did not physically try to become something other than what his heritage is, by defying the traditions associated with it and the rez he had- in doing so- virtually became another ethnicity in the eyes of his tribe (Alexie 42). As Junior’s life was negatively affected by modernization, so is African culture by being over-simplified. Modernization translates to globalization- the universal spreading of information and in this case awareness on HIV/AIDS. But incorrect information about the African people and their connection with the virus was compiled and spread.
The campaigns formulated to help the country hurt it- doing so with popular opinions that its people are ill-educated on the same virus that rampages within its borders forming (Lauer 4). In addition to false information negative stereotypes of subgroups of Africans are made that sparks racism about promiscuous behavior and trends within communities (Lauer 8). While the new ideas of the changing world can be applied in positive ways and with good intentions, the end result is not always as intended.
Todays society is complex in that there are countless different types of people and ach of them with different sets of morals, ethics, and ideas for the future of the world and themselves. Throughout the course of history, new innovations have been made in each era, only to be replaced by another in due time. Virtually always present, conflict is a constant in any sort of society as change is. Timeless in nature, the argument of Modernism vs. Traditionalism stems off of the great differences between the two- to value the old, the roots, the foundation or to progress into something new and of the current time.
Whether it is to embrace the new or old, oth choices have been observed to have negative and positive outcomes further perpetuating the difficulty in choosing between the two. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian can be used as a reference to show the effects of transitioning to the “new’ of the world, while at the same time illustrating the opinions on it from both the traditional culture, Junior’s tribe on the “rez”, and those of the modern age, the people that he had met at Rearden High School. Works Cited Sherman, Alexie. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009.
Print. Basu, Moni . “Census: More People Identify As Mixed Race. ” New York Times 27 9 2012, n. pag. Web. 12 December 2012. Choe, Sang-Hun. “In Changing South Korean, Who Counts as ‘Korean’?. ” New York Times 29 11 2012, A14. Web. 11 December 2012. Lauer, Helen. “Rethinking ‘Tradition vs. Modernity: The Social Construction of the ‘HIV/AIDS Crisis’ in Africa. ” Culture Today. 2006: 2-20. Web. 12 December 2012. L’, Tao. “Philosophic Perspective: A comparatlve study 0T I raaltlonal cnlnese Mealclne ana western Mealclne. ” As social science 2. (201 1): 198-201. ProQuest. web. 18 December 2012.