Culture Is The Adaptive Manifestation Of Society Essay

Submitted By hushedscream
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Culture is the adaptive manifestation of society's values and attitudes applied to a specific group of people. Evidencing this are Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1960) and Martin Luther King Jr's speech "I Have a Dream" (1963), which are representative of social and cultural transition, namely from deeply rooted racism against African Americans in the early 1900s to the turning point of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Culture, being made up of values and attitudes, is very much the creation of shared history and tradition, including the ideological beliefs that are particular to that group of people. Lee's text displays these deeply rooted beliefs through Maycomb, a fictional town that exhibits various objectionable traits drawn from her context. Evidencing this is the repeated vilification of African Americans through their description by Miss Gates, a school teacher and hence a role model for the younger generation, as being "way above themselves". Class boundaries are also clearly defined and exercised, with metaphorical descriptions by Aunt Alexandra of the Cunninghams being "trash", as well as gender binaries, illustrated by Atticus, a relatively impartial man's statement that "Miss Maudie can't serve on a jury because she's a woman". These customs and beliefs are all reflective of the actual described American-Southwest culture in the 1930s.

While culture is indeed adaptive, evolving to suit the changes and challenges that exist in society, this process of adaptation is often fraught with hesitation and reluctance. In "To Kill a Mockingbird", the reluctance of society to adapt is demonstrated throughout the text, especially through the case of Tom Robinson. Despite the fact that Robinson's case should "never have come to court" due to the lack of basic evidence that he raped a white woman, this case of "black and white" still was decided in the white plaintiff's favour despite the jarring evidence to the contrary. The repeated defamation of Atticus as a "nigger-lover" as well as a man who "laws for niggers" from various people who blatantly ignore the actual facts in the situation in order to prevent their ideological beliefs from scepticism further illustrates this widespread phenomena.

The gradual variation of culture is attributable to changes and challenges in society. King's "I Have a Dream" represents a turning point in American culture starting in the 1950s, where the ignorance of the Whites is beginning to fade and the Black Americans finally find a voice for freedom in Martin Luther King Jr, in contrast to the deeply bigoted 1930s represented by Lee's text where this movement and speech would have been nigh impossible. Substantiating this is the proclamation that some Whites "have realised that their freedom