July 18, 2012
Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
Thanks to globalization, people are expected to be associated with a variety of races. Along with these nationalities come cultures. The cultures around the world are so unique and each and every one of them is very different yet very alike all at the same time. There is a never-ending mound of questions that can be used to compare and contrast culture to culture, but the fact that there are so many connections in the midst, humanity should simply practice and preach multiculturalism and assimilation. Nevertheless, it can’t always be as straightforward and uncomplicated for some people. In Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible, she introduces the Price family and its most important member, Nathan Price. Giving up their house in sunny Georgia, the Prices embark their new lives in the Belgian Congo as Christian missionaries. It was only until it was too late for the Price family, especially Nathan, to realize how many damaging effects could be done by ignorantly imposing one’s culture in another cultural location instead of accepting the differences. Nathan Price led his wife and his four daughters over from America to Africa in belief that he could successfully convert the people to the “correct” Christian ways in the village of Kilanga. Upon their arrival in the Congo, the villagers had voluntarily hosted a welcoming feast for the Prices. Of course along with his ethnocentrism, his missionary zeal is bound to partake in his conversations. His speech that dinner, however, went from a pleasant and grateful greeting to a harsh sermon about the evil of nudity. “Nakedness and darkness of the soul! For we shall destroy this place where the loud clamor of the sinners is waxen great before the face of the Lord” (Kingsolver 33). Little did he realize that the expressions of joy to confusion to dismay from the villagers were consequences of his reprimand. "A few women...
Cited: Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.
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