Compare and Contrast of “The Lesson” and “The Hammon and the Beans” By Lester J.
Tavis Smiley an author and Radio/T.V. host once said there is "2 Americas." The minority glamorous America we and rest of the world can only dream of, and the poverty majority America, the glum true face of our country. Social divides in America leads to more than just racial tensions. Social inequalities are seen in almost every aspect of the American society; to the open eye. As seen in Paredes "The Hammon and the Beans" and Bambara "The Lesson", both authors illustrate through different experiences the negative attributes of poverty, class division and the vast difference in their social living.
In "The Hammon and the Beans" Paredes does a brilliant job in showcasing the difference between Chonita the poor girl of the town and the soldiers staying in Fort Jones. The soldiers in Fort Jones are depicted by Dr. Zapata as a kind of occupying power totally indifferent to the townspeople, isolating themselves. The soldiers pay no attention to the children who gather outside their fence to watch the activities in the fort. Even when Chonita, is brave enough to enter the fort, she must put up with scolding from the cooks before they give her "hammon and beans" which was leftovers from the soldiers meal. The reason why Paredes paints this picture of irony and symbolism is to reveal to the reader the theme of poverty just one of the many dilemmas facing poor Mexican immigrant children. Although the soldiers have plenty to eat, many of the town’s children suffer from malnutrition, and Chonita’s family lives in a shack, the poster of poverty. The divide and her fate is a heart felt eye-opener.
Another theme is problem of cultural assimilation and the tensions that come along with it. Which is evident by the attitudes expressed towards the soldiers in the story. The soldier came to old fort Jones because of border troubles. Some people admired the soldiers while others hated them....
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