Custom «Going Back Home» Essay Paper Sample
Norris, Kathleen (1880-1966), who was an award winning novelist, was born in California. She is renowned for writing the essay” Can You Tell the Truth in a Small Town?” among other notable books. The essay is extracted in the book Dakota; A Spiritual Geography. Angelou, Maya, on the other hand, is a black, American writer, poet, and entertainer. Over the years she gracefully rose to an epitome of powerful African American women. Mayas poems and stories tell a story about a young black girl who had to rise above all odds to become successful in a society that disregarded her. In the essay, reclaiming Our Home Place, Angelou emphasizes on the need fro people to maintain their customs and traditional practices. She constantly talks about returning to the south, which is home.
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These two books are similar in various aspects. First, they both tell a story about small communities whose members have a strong sense of unity as a community. This is because being in a small community, gives these inhabitants a sense of stability and belonging. Thus, it is true to state that these two books focus on the vitality of belonging to a place where one is accepted. Both these writers lay emphasis on the value of belonging to a community. Having a place to call home and a place that gives them an identity. However, their definitions and reference of home vary. For instance, Norris talks about her desire to move from New York to her grandparents' home in Lemmon, South Dakota. ”I’m also an insider by virtue of family connections. I have a unique role here and try to respect its complexity...but my roots go deep” (132). Even though Plains are where no one wishes to live or visit her reason for staying and settling down in this small town, is its “spiritual geography”, heritage, and environment connection, she has made with the land. Kathleen Norris sees the beauty of the land and finds herself focusing on different aspects in her life, which she could not do so in a fast paced city like New York. For instance, she says “I’m invigorated by the harsh beauty of the land” (127). Maya, on the other hand, talks about the south as home. Black people migrate from South to North in search for greener pastures, but they always look back to the South since that is where their roots are. She describes the South with a lot of fondness, and she claims this is the best place to live and everyone will remember its beauty no matter where they go. "It is beautiful beyond the weight and even the ecstasy of my memories….the Cicadas in the evening…walks along honeysuckles paths…” (137).
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Another key difference notable in the two is that they both have a different description of country life. For instance, Norris says, “Dakotas might seem to provide a writer with ample solitude and quiet. But the frantic social activity in small towns conspires to silence a person. There are far fewer people than jobs to fill” (127). Although the plains are limiting with less opportunities, she still desires to return since it is her home and she has a spiritual connection to the place. Maya, on the other hand, states, -“Wherever home is, the closer one gets to it, the more one relaxes…you can almost spot your house. You start to breathe differently.” (136). Angelou emotionally describes the beauty of the South, where they walked away from and now come back to enjoy its peacefulness. They now realize many precious things this Southern land offer uniquely. And moreover, the land is where they truly belong, and it accepts them as who they are.
Change is inevitable in a society; however, how people react and deal to change is what matters: there is always a choice as to where people reside. According to Norris, it is very difficult for people to readily deal with change, this includes outsiders. They think change means failure; it is a contaminant brought in by outside elements” (130) There is the perception that everything from the outside world is suspect, while everything local, especially that which derives from the immediate family, is good” (130). According to Angelou, the South has experienced massive changes according to many African Americans over the years. Many African Americans moved to North America hundreds of years back with the objective of making better lives. The North, to them, was an opening towards a strong prosperous life. They considered the south as a place where their freedom was not accepted. The North presented a light of hope towards freedom, equity and a chance for a new life. However, in reality for many African Americans, the dream of the north did not come to life, and many of them were disappointed and had to return home.
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Fear is one of the factors that hinder people from embracing change; the old families in the local society who silently fix the history not to discourage themselves or the younger generations. A good story is one that is not demanding… It tells lie after lie, and the happy ending is the happiest lie of all (131).The most important thing about history is that it has to be truthfully told. However, the people here have a need to hear the history. This is because, listening to fixed history gives them a false sense of hope. This is despite many of them knowing it is not true they are willing to accept it more than the painful past.
In Maya’s story, people move from the South to the “mythic Northern city” in the hope for a better place and escape their slavery past. They have a strong vitality to “rise out of the huts of history’s shame...from the past rooted in. However, since they cannot adapt to changes too fast, they are not able to avoid criminality and drugs from the city. By this, they look back and reclaim “There is a core of health in our culture”, “We can stand for the good. That is why we risk our lives” (137).