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Conflict of Generations in Smoke Signals and “Two Kinds” Essay

Conflict of generations is a phenomenon in human relations that has existed as long as people live on the earth. Misunderstanding between the young and the old result from a vast variety of reasons, and the search for the suitable resolution of generation conflicts has been one of the topics attracting not only practical psychologists but creative minds as well.

“How do we forgive our fathers?” is the question asked by one of the characters in Chris Eyre’s movie Smoke Signals, and in search of the answer to it one may also turn to the short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan. The way the characters of both the movie and the short story forgive their parents for painful experiences of their childhood is through forgiveness, understanding, and acceptance of their parents the way they are.

The almost week-long journey of the main character in Smoke Signals, Victor, to collect the belongings of his deceased father, Arnold, may be seen as a symbolic depiction of the long spiritual way he covered to forgive Arnold for leaving his family. Obviously addressing the young generation with the message of understanding and reconciliation, the movie is set in a form of narration that highlights the key stages in the process of accepting the father’s mistakes.

One of the most efficient rhetoric strategies employed in Smoke Signals for showing the connections between the past and the present conflicts within Victor’s soul is the narrative technique of flashback. Reminiscences of the fire scene serve both to show Arnold’s mistake of striking the fatal fire and to demonstrate his dedication to correcting his mistakes and saving the baby from that fire. A symbolic parallel can be drawn between the fire scenes and the scenes where Arnold drinks heavily and mistreats his wife and son.

The destructive impulse of maltreatment scenes is compensated by the constructive idea of rescuing the baby from the fire. A parallel idea to the latter is Arnold’s eternal desire to come back to his family and save it from the destructive fire of disruption. Thus the key message of balance between the good and evil is delivered through the techniques of flashback, symbolism, and parallel ideas.

In order to realize the complex ways of the tensions between generations, it is demonstrative to turn to another example of generation conflict in “Two Kinds”, a short story by Amy Tan. The main character of the story, a Chinese immigrant girl called Jing-Mei, is pressured into becoming a prodigy by her mother who believes that anything is possible in America.

The spheres where Jing-Mei should excel are chosen by her mother quite haphazardly, on the basis of articles about prodigies she reads in popular magazines. Jing-Mei is hurt by the fact that her personal desires and interests are not reckoned with, and protests first latently by sabotaging piano lessons and then openly by confronting her mother and wishing she had never been born if she is not respected (Tan 186). Her mother never mentions playing the piano after that incident.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More However, she gives Jing-Mei a piano for her thirteenth birthday and still believes the girl could become a genius if she wanted. Jing-Mei had not played it until after her mother’s death, and it is only then that she understands how good her mother actually meant.

As it is obvious both from the film and from the short story, conflicts between generations emerge due to lack of insight into the true motifs that cause parents’ actions. The way Victor sees his father is quite limited: in his son’s perception Arnold is represented as a violent man mistreating his wife and son. This image of his father is revealed by Victor in a conversation with his friend Thomas: “Did you know that my father was the one that set your parent’s house on fire? Did you know that my father beat my mother? Did you know that my father beat me too?” (Smoke Signals). Victor’s aversion to the way his father gave up his family is seen in the way he is reluctant to go for Arnold’s ashes and belongings.

The authoritarian way Jing-Mei’s mother treats her in choosing the ways her daughter should shape her future is the cause of the girl’s rebellion. Having experienced a number of failures in becoming a prodigy, Jing-Mei does not receive any emotional support from her mother. Tired of cramming for unrealistic achievements, Jing-Mei realizes that her mother wants to see someone else in her, and not the simple girl she actually is.

This understanding of rejection of her true self by her own mother is the reason for Jing-Mei’s protest against such hurting of her self-esteem: “I won’t let her change me, I promised myself. I won’t be what I’m not” (Tan 182). In her resolute confrontation, Jing-Mei becomes withdrawn and does not see the true reasons for her mother’s attempts at making her successful.

The way to resolving the generation conflict is through gradual realization of the motifs behind the parents’ behavior. In case with Victor, this realization and ultimate forgiveness come through learning about the real life circumstances that provoked Arnold’s behavior. Victor’s friend Thomas attempts to reveal other, more positive and humane sides of Arnold to his son embittered by Arnold’s betrayal of his family.

Thomas turns out to have understood Arnold’s tragedy much deeper than Arnold’s own son: “All I know is that when your father left your mother, he lost you too” (Smoke Signals). Additionally, Victor gets the opportunity to learn about the way his father felt from Suzie, the girl who has witnessed Arnold’s final years.

Suzie tells of the real reasons why the fatal fire emerged on 4th July when Thomas’ parents perished. The burden of fault for their deaths had haunted Arnold his whole life and led to his alcoholism and family disruption. Gradual understanding of his father’s motives for drinking helps Victor accept the situation and forgive Arnold.

We will write a custom Essay on Conflict of Generations in Smoke Signals and “Two Kinds” specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More The situation of misunderstanding between Jing-Mei and her mother continues long after the open confrontation. The girl confesses she “failed her [mother] many times, each time asserting [her own] will, [her] right to fall short of expectations” (Tan 186). The moment of understanding comes unexpectedly, as Jing-Mei returns to her parents’ home in order to arrange things after her mother dies. The piano she received for her birthday stands as a reminder of her mother’s ambitions, and Jing-Mei had it tuned “for purely sentimental reasons” (Tan 187).

However, as she sits down to play a long-forgotten piece, she realizes that actually playing the piano was not that difficult and she could easily manage it, had she taken enough effort. Hampering her true talent, her mother’s authoritarian attitude was simply a wrong strategy to let the girl develop her natural talent, and the only reasons her mother appeared so misunderstanding and distant was the national tradition of parent diktat over their children.

As it becomes apparent from the movie and the short story, conflicts between generations result from misunderstanding of the true motifs inspiring parents’ action. The key to harmony among the generations lie therefore in attempting to realize the background of each other’s ideas.

Works Cited Smoke Signals. Dir. Chris Eyre. Perf. Adam Beach, Evan Adams, Gary Farmer, and Irene Bedard. ShadowCatcher Entertainment, 1998. Film.

Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts. 4th compact ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2008. 180–187. Print.

The Impact of Genocide on the Modern Society Analytical Essay

Nursing Assignment Help Causes and the impact of genocide on economies, women and children Genocide is an operation planned and executed on a group of people belonging to a certain race, religion, ethnic group or religion with the intent to kill them. Genocide classifies people into groups, dehumanizes them using hateful symbols and languages, stereotypes, and it is always organized.

Some of the major genocides that have occurred in history are the Holocaust, Bosnia’s genocide, Rwanda genocide and more recently the Darfur genocide, among others. Genocides are caused by a variety of reasons that could be political economic or social or even personal. For example, Germany was facing an economic crisis, which they blamed it on the Jews hence the holocaust; Hitler also personally loathed the Jews. The Holocaust led to the death of 8 million Jews who were murdered ruthlessly under the leadership of Adolf Hitler.

While in Rwanda it could be attributed to both ethnic differences and political issues following the assassination of the then president on April 1994. The Rwandan government instructed the Hutus majority to murder every member of the Tutsis minority. In a hundred days one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered living millions of others injured mentally and physically.

This was one of the worst cases of genocide since the Holocaust with the killing rate in Rwanda being five times more that of the Nazis’ Holocaust; as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population were murdered and thousands of Hutu were also slain for opposing the genocide. The fighting groups feel that they cannot coexist with their opponents nor can they share power or resources (Kakar 89).

These cases of genocide can be greatly attributed to globalization, especially in today’s society due to the global sale of arms financing from the Diaspora, international organizations, trained militia by foreign forces and also huge economic expectations all over the globe.

Globalization has created an environment for wars in which neo –nationalisms develop and create instability in weak nations and religions hence creating conditions for social fragmentation fuelling conditions for cleavage and conflict. It has been noted that in all genocides that have happened the international organizations and world powers always intervene when it is already too late to salvage the situation (Valentino 245).

Conflict always has many effects on the society economically and also socially, and the major effect being great loss of human life that brings a big demographic change on a population. Some of the economic problems facing the world are due to cost incurred in genocide activities, because a country in conflict stops production activities and instead concentrates on spending on arms, resettlement of the displaced and also trial for the perpetrators of the event.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Resources are depleted while the human workforce is displaced as refugees and others are even murdered and before the country comes to recovery the GNP drops and they are forced to depend on donations. The people who escape to other nations find it hard to cope because those countries consider them as a burden economically and socially, they face discrimination and all they can do is live in refugee camps where the living conditions are very poor.

People should consider peace instead of violence because the benefits they get are very minimal if any, compared to the costs incurred both short term and long term. Investors also will always avoid such countries since they would not want to risk their businesses, hence declining employment opportunities leading to poverty. For example, Afghanistan used over US $240M for military supplies causing a major drop in its economic growth, there are no jobs and foreign investments decreased.

The Rwandan genocide led to a great fall of the country’s economy making the people live in misery conditions, especially women who now have no husbands to take care of them. Although, the country is trying to rebuild the economy with the help of World Bank and donations from other European nations, there is imbalance of payment with the propensity of consumption superseding the propensity to produce or save.

The genocides that have occurred are a lesson for the modern society to avoid such events as they can feel effects. In some places the changes in population is so high that there is no people to work while others do not see the reason to since they have lost their hope in living.

Socially, women, young girls and children are the most affected group in society when genocide occurs considering there has been no genocide where rape has not occurred and children have not been orphaned. Rape is often used as a genocide weapon with women and young being the victims. Most of these women are infected with deceases such as AIDS and others which that they suffer for the rest of their lives; furthermore their husbands are killed living them as the sole breadwinners of their families.

During the holocaust very many women were murdered, because the Nazis did not need them for labour and also not forgetting that they were the main perpetuators of the future generations of Jews who Nazis wanted to completely eliminate from the planet. The Men escaped and often left the women and children alone hence making women the providers of their families in the harsh conditions. In Bosnia the genocide was against the muslin population and men who were murdered living women as the care takers of families.

These women live in psychological trauma because of the painful experiences they suffered during the genocide .They were brutally beaten and raped in prison camps hotels houses and also in the open, most of them have not achieved justice and to make the situation worse they are still discriminated due to this happenings.

We will write a custom Essay on The Impact of Genocide on the Modern Society specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More In Afghanistan, research has shown that after the wars against the Taliban, 42% of the women suffered depression and others posttraumatic stress, 65% of the women have committed suicide while 16%of them have attempted suicide, and this is because of most of them were victims of rape. Those that have survived trauma live in poverty with no one to feed them. Young girls are married to old well-off men to escape their poverty trap while orphaned children do menial jobs for survival.

In Rwanda, there were over half a million rapes that occurred during the genocide, and the women have been left stigmatized, their husbands left them due to the rape. Others suffer from aids syphilis, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases with some resulting to abortions due to rape (unexpected) pregnancies (Mackinnon 456).

Just imagine, polygamy was illegal in Rwanda before the Genocide but the government has considered changing this because the number of widows is very high with most of them being either sick or too weak to support their families. Many children were orphaned, and left depressed due the terrifying experiences they underwent seeing their parents being murdered. Families headed by children are common. It is clear that for this people genocide is not yet over because they still suffer because it (Kiernan, 125)

Psychologically the modern society has a lot to handle from the genocides because some people lost their families or even watched them being murdered or tortured hence living them depressed. It is very unfortunate because victims of genocide have not been assisted in any way in most countries that have experienced it; neither the government nor the international community has done much to help them.

Many Women in Bosnia cannot keep jobs today because of their mental conditions and some of them often get very angry or easily irritated. There are also many suicides that take place for the same reason because people feel they can not deal with the pain any more. The society therefore has an obligation to take care of these people for them to survive to the future.

In some countries ethnic groups still hold grudges against others, they want compensation while others cannot trust each other, for instance the Tutsi and Hutus of Rwanda, people can no longer trust each other despite the reconciliation programs organized by the UN because they fear the occurrence (Weitz, 201).

In conclusion, genocide just like any other crime should be prevented by taking effective measures, so that it does not happen ever again in the modern society. Although, the International Community has tried to stop genocide, it has not achieved a lot instead it always find itself trying to punish the perpetrators of the occurrence which take year to prosecute taking into consideration that most of them go to exile after the event.

This is because of the complex procedures and rules that govern the international community and also impunity that exist among the leaders.

Not sure if you can write a paper on The Impact of Genocide on the Modern Society by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More The “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” was formed by the United Nations to handle genocide-related issues and the perpetrators, who are then taken to the International Criminal Court for trial. This is a major step in preventing genocide but preventing it can only be achieved through first understanding what causes it and the motivations toward it.

This involves; studying ethnic differences their causes and effects on a population, also studying various political systems and determining which are most likely to cause anarchy in a nation, for instance totalitarian governments and counties with high poverty levels form a perfect recipe for genocide.

Religions also play a major role in preventing genocide; they should be able to teach their congregations about morals, anger control, and peaceful coexistence. Beyond all this it is a personal responsibility for individuals to stop genocide and support the peace organizations in place to foster peace in our societies (Andreopoulos 321).

Works Cited Andreopoulos, George. Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press .1994.

Kakar, Hassan. Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Kiernan, Ben. Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2007.

MacKinnon, Catharine. Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues. NY: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2006.

Valentino, Benjamin. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century. NY: Cornell University Press. 2004.

Weitz, Eric. A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 2003.