Gypsies: Family and Fortune Tellers

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The idea of running away as a child with a band of travelers is often romanticized in book and movies; it is hard to know what it would be like to run away with a group of gypsies. This is due to the fact that their culture is hidden from outsiders, so it is hard to get an understanding of their communities. Yoors book The Gypsies gives us a look at a hidden culture from the perspective of someone who was accepted into their community. This unbiased perspective lets us peer at stereotypes that are used to describe life of the Roma and we can see if they are true or false.

When most people think of the Roma the image that comes to mind is one of fortune tellers and palm readers. Even I thought that they believed in the supernatural forces they would claim to use when telling the future. But in truth they use either as a way of taking small amounts of money or items they need from the non Roma as well as making fun of them (pg 55).

Another example of a stereotype that Yoors proves to be false occurs after the death of his close friend, Putzini, when Jan is fully accepted into the Rom family (pg 79). Gaining full acceptance into such a close knit and secretive culture you would imagine would require an elaborate ceremony to join the family. But instead it is as simple as Putzini’s father Pulika saying that he will let it be known among all his people that from now on he claimed full responsibility” (82). And with those words Jan was considered family, not only for Pulika and his immediate family, but now for all of the other traveling families.

There is also a stereotype that the Roma leave their children to starve and are forced to live off of only what they are able to get through begging. But in fact Yoors sees them willing to share whatever they have with those around them even a boy from the outside world (pg 22). They eat plenty, but do ask for food from the passerby’s, almost as if it is a game for them, trying to get food or money from the...
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