Cultural Conflicts in Wide Sargasso Sea

Essay by JMAldayIIICollege, UndergraduateA, October 2014

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Cultural Conflicts in Wide Sargasso Sea

Tayo's experience returning to New Mexico after World War II and Rochester's presence in the Caribbean are excellent examples of characters being torn between being an outsider and being a welcome member of society. Both Tayo as well as Rochester experience being torn from their own cultures. Tayo going to war separates him from his culture while Rochester's going to the Caribbean to find a wife pulls him out of his British culture. Rejection by their families plays a central role in making Tayo and Rochester feel estranged. Dealing with their masculinity is also a problem in both characters stories. Tayo and Rochester both lack a true father figure which makes becoming a man much more difficult. There are many similarities between Tayo and Rochester and their struggles with being torn between cultures, rejected by their families, and coming to terms with their own gender issues.

The similarities between Tayo and Rochester being torn between cultures is contrasted by the fact that Tayo is desperately trying to figure out his identity while Rochester was taken from his English culture and placed in the Caribbean. Throughout his childhood, Tayo is faced with many obstacles that end with him losing his identity. Tayo desperately tries to find balance between his pride in his Indian heritage and his shame for being half-white. Growing up, Tayo goes to Indian school where most of the teachers were Anglo and try to pull him and his cousin Rocky away from their Indian culture by telling them "not to believe in that kind of 'nonsense'"(Silko 19). His cousin Rocky is accepted by the white community because of his status as a football star; and so, in turn, Rocky starts to leave his Indian heritage behind. Tayo looks up to...