24 April 2010
To Be or Not to Be?
Society has an interesting affect on how people act and portray themselves. Certain individuals feel the pressure of society and change who they are to fit it, possibly losing who they really are in the process. Others understand that even though society is constantly judging, it is important to remain true to one selves, only shape shifting when absolutely necessary. Two individuals, apart of the same race, can change themselves completely or barely to be accepted by society. While “Mr. Z, ” written by M. Carl Holman and “ Black Men and Public Space,” written by Brent Staples have certain characteristics in common; it is their differences that standout. The reader discovers that being a black man can mean many things; from losing individualism, to accepting who one is and working with society. The character of Mr. Z, in Holman’s poem, and Staples can relate because both want to be viewed by others in a positive light.
The main character in Holman’s poem has traded in his identity to fit in with society. Not only has he become a different person, but he was “Taught early that his mother’s skin was a sign of error,” (Holman 1).
Chart comparing aspects of different countries Comparisons between the Model Society and other major societies and theories A Utopian society does not exist in any country in the world. The perfect system has not yet been developed. Certainly the United States and the Soviet Union have been two of the most admired systems OF the past, but they to are far from an ideal model of a just society which ...
By being only half black, the speaker in “Mr. Z” was able to be accepted by (a largely white) society. The speaker became an “expert in vintage wines, sauces, and salads,” (Holman 11) disregarding stereotypes that African Americans eat only soul food. By changing the speakers knowledge of food and beverages, the main character in “Mr. Z” is acceptable and not deemed an outsider. Staples does change himself for society, but not as drastically as the main character in “Mr. Z”. While taking late evening strolls along less busy streets, Staples decides to whistle classical music to keep others (specifically white women) at ease, “…melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi and more popular classical composers,” (Staples 14).
He comes to the conclusion that society, as a whole, does not expect a large, black man whistling classical music to be a threat. One might assume that he is well educated man, not out to rape or pillage the world. Holman also uses this idea with the main character in his poem, “Disclaimed kinship with jazz and spirituals,” (Holman 4); by knowing certain music the public thinks the speaker is educated and cannot possibly be “black.”
The main character, described in Holman’s poem, “dressed and spoke the perfect part and honor,” (Holman 2), contrasted to Staples “…a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair…” (Staples 1).
Not only does “Mr. Z’s” main character trade in his individualism and look to be accepted by society, but he defines him self as a new person “Chose prudent, raceless views for each situation…Whatever ground was Anglo-Saxonized,” (Holman 5).
Staples chooses to keep his individuality; he does not trade in his hair and his beard to be accepted. Even when Staples encounters discriminating situations for being black, “…rushing into the office of a magazine I was working for…I was mistaken for a burglar,” (Staples 10); he still does not change. Staples has almost come to terms with who he is and how society treats him. There are moments when Staples has had to smother his rage for being mistaken as a criminal, but he understands that becoming wildly upset would be what authorities are looking for and make the situation worse.
John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men, is about life on a ranch in the nine1930's. Two men -- Lennie and George -- are the newcomers on a ranch. Lennie is a giant man, much like a bear, who has obvious mental limitations. George is a friend, or the only friend, of Lennie's. George and Lennie travel together and George is Lennie's caretaker. They have a dream of buying a ranch together and living ...
The speaker describes that “Mr. Z” was not raised to accept who he was, he was raised to accept that “white” society is the correct way. From speaking proper English, to wearing nice clothes, learning about fine wines, and saying the right things, the main character barries his mother’s race deep inside of him; conforming to what society deems appropriate. In contrast Staples, was raised in an small, angry town located in Pennsylvania, “I was scarcely noticeable against a backdrop of gang warfare, street knifings, and murders. I grew up one of the good boys…” (Staples 7).
It never occurred to Staples, until he moved to Chicago to attend college, that he might viewed as a harmful or scary to others around him, “… I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance I’d come into-the ability to alter public space in ugly ways,” (Staples 2) . While the speaker in “Mr. Z” would never put himself in the type of situation, “Choosing the right address, here, abroad, They shunned those places were they might be barred,” (Holman 16).
Staples and the speaker in “Mr. Z” are always aware of the surroundings they are in. On one hand, Staples deals with his surroundings and accepts it, but he also chose large cities to live in (New York, Chicago) with more diverse people and opinions. The speaker in “Mr. Z” will not even travel anywhere that might make him feel uncomfortable or discriminated against. Although both men are black and trying to be accepted without being the looked down upon; it is more important for the speaker in “Mr. Z” to fit into a certain mold. Staples just wants to appease individuals minds about him. He does not necessarily want to fit in, he just wants people to not be scared of him. Staples is proud of whom he is, but has taken up the precaution of whistling classical music on his his night time strolls to prevent an uneasy situation from happening. It is important to know that the speaker in “Mr. Z.” has completely rid himself of any race he had in him. The speaker did not even break away from what he was taught to see if he might enjoy another other side of him. Staples and the main character in “Mr. Z” both take the knowledge they have learned to fit into their surroundings. The speaker in “Mr. Z” does not lose/change his “individualism,” the speaker was raised without it. Staples only changes himself for a moment, to make people less afraid of a stereotypical “moment” they might happen.
In the Bible, it is written ‘Now these are to you the unclean among the swarming things which swarm on the earth: the mole, and the mouse, and the great lizard in its kinds. ” Furthermore it is said that ‘These [including the snake] are to you the unclean among all the swarming things; whoever touches them when they [the ‘swarming things’] are dead becomes unclean until evening ( ...
Holman, Car M. “Mr. Z.” Between Worlds: A Reader, Rhetoric, and Handbook. Ed. Susan Bachman and Melinda Barth. 6th edition. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. 133-34. Print.
Staples, Brent. “Black Men and Public Space.” Between Worlds: A Reader, Rhetoric, and Handbook. Ed. Susan Bachman and Melinda Barth. 6th edition. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. 181-85. Print.