Western Governors University
According to Pearson’s “Survey of Literature”, the basic meaning of othering “concerns the act of making another group or individual appear as different, an other” (Pearson) The act of othering isolates and discriminates someone or group simply for being disparate. This discrimination is acted out by an individual or group that feels superior towards others based on race, gender, culture, lifestyle choice, political views, or even personality traits like being sensitive or vulnerable. By making the other feel inferior, the person or group doing the othering gains a false sense of power. Othering involves both isolation and victimization. Anyone can execute “othering”. Examples are; coworkers, excluding someone from an office luncheon, classmates, through teasing or not including a child in games or group projects, neighbors, by insulting other neighbors because they have an overgrown yard or too many cars in the driveway, or even society as a whole, such as the large portion of Americans who invalidly condemned all Muslims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In addition to discrimination, authors often use othering to describe manners that result in “inequality, oppression, and genocide.” (Pearson)
Othering is a common theme in the captivating short story “This is What It Means To Say Pheonix, Arizona” by Sherman Alexie. It is the story of an Indian man, named Victor, who deals with the death of his father. While trying to muster up the funds to make a trip to Phoenix to recover his father’s remains, Victor reunites with an old childhood friend. It is this first encounter with Thomas Builds-the-Fire, that Otherness is displayed. While Thomas proudly tells Victor a memory he has of Victor’s father, “all the other Indians stared surprised that Victor was even talking to Thomas. Nobody talked to Thomas because he told the same damn stories over and over again.” (Alexie, 1994) Stating that no one speaks...
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