Living With Strangers

Topics: City, Urban culture, The Strangers Pages: 4 (1499 words) Published: April 29, 2015
Living with Strangers – Siri Hustvedt
Every society and culture have their own way of behaving among one another. In a rural community, it is usually a custom to greet bypassing people politely, when it might seem as a strange gesture in the eyes of an urbanite. These norms are discussed in Siri Hustvedt’s essay, “Living with Strangers” (2002). Through descriptions of her own personal experiences, the surroundings and life in the city, Hustvedt reflects upon urban life and how society has developed since the establishment of cities. Paradoxically, the title, “Living with Strangers”, refers to the fact that Hustvedt is living and sharing some quite intimate moments with her fellow New Yorkers, yet they are completely isolated from one another, implying that society is closed and segregated. Like many other essays, “Living with Strangers” consists of 3 parts: An introduction and elaboration with two different aspects on urban life, and a concluding part, where she combines the two aspects into one. Hustvedt opens her stream of reflections by introducing the reader to her own personal experiences in the city. She hereby manages to catch the reader’s attention by seeming more sincere and real, and making the reader able to identify themselves in given situations. By appealing to ethos she manages to convince the reader that the topic is something they have in common, and is relevant for not only the writer but also the reader. She explains how she came from a rural community in Minnesota, and how different her impression of urban life was, compared to her life in her hometown. She was used to greet everyone on her way, in a small and more personal society. Quickly, she discovered how useless it would be to create personal contact with every citizen in the city. Yet, she still expresses the intimacy that is between the strangers. “I found myself in intimate contact with people I didn’t know, my body pressed so tightly against them(…)In my former life, such...
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