Why literature? Explore the significance of one particular text in a cultural and literal way


Culture as a people’s way of living is a very integral part of human interactions. Most importantly, this forms the basis of identity and belonging and provides the necessary foundations of socialization that are either handed down from one generation to the other or even learned. The preservation of different may vary depending on the inept dispositions of the people belonging to that set of beliefs and norms. As a fundamental basis of human behavior and patterns of interactions, the strengthening of the same is unavoidable. The literature, on the other hand, is like a mirror of what the society is and forms the basis of either preservation or the demeaning of culture. Cultures are shaped by literature, and thus the role of literature in nationalism, study, and an identity are essential components of literature. This essay will, therefore, delve into the significance of the text “loaf of bread” in a cultural and literary way.

Human nature is one that is dynamic, and there is no better way to explain this than through literary work like poems, novels, and short stories. Literature provides an easy way of looking a human nature and the different conditions that may influence their behavior. Ideally, human character is subject to alterations when it is not bound by the societal norms, and as such, people may wonder how one should act if the societal expectations were out of the question(Miller 13). Culture and literature are intertwined and offers a way through which a cultural diffusion may be affected and affected through the different time periods. Literature provides a way in which the people in the society can connect with nature and the rest of the world.

Besides being away from improving the reading skills literature, there are a lot more comprehensive about it regarding culture. Literature, for example in the teaching of topics like sex education(African cultures) puts in a way that is easy to understand and with the softest terms possible not to appear offensive. People will find it hard to respond to plainly to pertinent issues, but with a honey-coat, it becomes a lot easier (Miller 18). There is also the need to foster independence of thought, and most importantly a creative way of looking at daily human issues. This emanates from the truth that things may never work as a result of the diversity of the different cultures and opinions expressed therein and the importance of an open mind.

As an educational component, literature gives an insight into other disciplines and also helps to look at the society through the literature lens. For instance, in the story, “a loaf of bread” the cultural alienation that the characters in the same have become victims of racial prejudices (Lenora 117).  To understand this perspective means that a historical perspective has to be availed and making literature a very critical confine of culture. Secondly, human experience through time can only be appreciated through it, and the process of social change is also better understood through the literature arena.  Subsequently, the past may be reflected in the present decisions about the future. The implication is that this provides the society with the necessary information to learn, grow and evade any mistakes that may have been made in the past to create a more prosperous society of mutual respect and cultural consciousness.  The present happenings have their roots in the past and therefore have a clear picture of what happened in the can help in having an apprehension of what is currently happening in the society, and even the world as a whole.

It’s through literature that the political cultural and other social movements can be understood. Down in time, this story of a loaf of bread is documented at a time when the black population is facing all sorts of injustice, the political class is quiet about it and would not be interested in giving concern for the predicament of the black community. This provides significant knowledge that can be relied on in defining the way of life of the people back then. A contextual look at this historical and literary perspective, for example, the source and the predicament of the alienated population are essential for the understanding and the preservation of the culture of the said society.

Each culture is unique in its way and race notwithstanding; there is a need for respect and inclusivity of the diverse cultures even in the governance of people. Living in a society that thinks of itself as superior to those of a different race and culture, makes one feel a child of a lesser God than they are. Despite the adjustments that one may be trying to make to adjust to the new environment, the discrimination accorded them leaves them lonely and in agony. Unfortunately, the need to stand for the right of the minority few is something costly and endangering (Lenora 117). During such a time, therefore, the white race puts the black race at a compromising and is not allowed to exercise their freedoms.

The theme of the story as depicted by McPherson is that of racial prejudice. A culture that loves togetherness is in the middle of a mix-up because of an assumed inferiority by a white businessman, Mr. Green. The Baptist church Pastor, Nelson is thus placed in a position to stand in the gap and ensure that such discrimination is a thing of the past (Lenora, pg., 117). As citizens of the same country, in the least, the African Americans deserved an equal treatment like the other citizens. Unfortunately, the likes of Green want to take advantage of their plight and extort money from them by charging them high prices for commodities he sells cheaply in other neighborhoods. This paints him as a proud and a dishonest man.

Cultural independence is a precedent for its survival, thriving and even its acceptance. However, the events in McPherson’s “a loaf of bread” are so construed as to threaten the continued existence of the same culture. A sense of superiority by the store owner Green is so great that the thought of letting them thrive is very elusive and he sees it his obligation to continue the “oppression ” believing that even if not him, somebody else would also do the same (Lenora 117). The dishonesty and desire for success drive him crazy, and he forgets the basic foundations of human existence. The literary context thus as cemented by the historical injustices, provide the basis for the evaluation of the cultural subscriptions, its maintenance and how well it can be handed down to the next generation. Most importantly, the value for collectivism as depicted by the black family as opposed to individualism is a cultural construct that gives a lot of relevance to the existence of the society.

Similarly, in the story turtles can fly, the superiority complex thing leads to an invasion of a seemingly peaceful nation. The aim of whose was to deliver justice ends up leaving a lot of people homeless in their homeland. The innocent caught up in the war see their dreams cut short and may have nowhere to run to (Hamid and Ghobadi 44). The freedom to pursue them and exercise what they have been used to is threatened by the invasion, and even most, unfortunately, their central concern becomes staying alive. Just like in McPherson’s story, it is a struggle to keep one’s way of life which is marred with a lot of obstacles that threaten to phase it out.

Conclusively, culture and literature provide a basis for human interaction, learning and even the preservation of societal histories. Through literature, the influence of a culture can be handed down from one generation to the next and also the facilitation of learning of other disciplines. Cultural identities are aspects that enthusiasts want to keep close to them, and without literary evidence, the subscriptions to the same may be hard. Subsequently, historical constructs of the society through literature can quickly help in the analyzing of present and past situations and ways in which they influence the courses of action that need to be adopted to avoid the occurrence of the same. Most importantly, we live in a culturally diverse society, and with globalization, the literature available gives insight into the different cultures and hence giving a chance to appreciate the different ways without necessarily having commotions.

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  1. Hamid, Rahul, and Bahman Ghobadi. “The Cinema of a Stateless Nation: An Interview with Bahman Ghobadi.” Cineaste 30.3 (2005): 42-45.
  2. Ledwon, Lenora. “Storytelling and Contracts.” Yale JL & Feminism13 (2001): 117.
  3. Miller, J. Hillis. “Literature Matters Today.” SubStance 42.2 (2013): 12-32.
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