Analysis of - Guests of the Sheik
Elizabeth Fernea entered El Nahra, Iraq as an innocent bystander. However, through her stay in the small Muslim village, she gained cultural insight to be passed on about not only El Nahra, but all foreign culture. As Fernea entered the village, she was viewed with a critical eye, “It seemed to me that many times the women were talking about me, and not in a particularly friendly manner” (70). The women of El Nahra could not understand why she was not with her entire family, and just her husband Bob. The women did not recognize her American lifestyle as proper. Conversely, BJ, as named by the village, and Bob did not view the El Nahra lifestyle as particularly proper either. They were viewing each other through their own cultural lenses. However, through their constant interaction, both sides began to recognize some benefits each culture possessed. It takes time, immersed in a particular community to understand the cultural ethos and eventually the community as a whole. Through Elizabeth Fernea’s ethnography on Iraq’s El Nahra village, we learn that all cultures have unique and equally important aspects. In El Nahra, for example, the cultural ethos is family honor. All actions in the community are based on the strong family bonds that exist throughout. However, individualism drives the majority of America. Our actions seem to be a direct result of the cultural ethos. In that, lied much of the confusion between Bob, BJ and the El Nahran people. In America, we spend much of the time away from home and completing tasks that will further the success of the individual. Generally, Americans are willing to sacrifice a little of their family stability for individual success. The sacrifice would be unheard of in a community such as El Nahra. Their relationships, both marriage and friendship are based on their family, and no one seems to know any other way of life. Marriages in El Nahra...
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