Monday, October 3, 2011

Character cultural relativity

I'm not sure if that's an appropriate title, but this addresses how characters react to each other within the confines of their experiences and their culture. From an email to a friend: "In a way I wanted to tell you this in person,but life's unpredictable nature might make it impossible for us to sit down and have a conversation. I put all my writing away a couple weeks ago. It was frustrating me and not enjoyable so I decided to read, clean my house, and potentially revisit my other hobbies. Just to recharge the batteries. This is always an awesome exercise because it allows the crazy new thoughts to enter your mind. Like my werewolf stories. Then I had a strange thought about Étienne's back story. I have waffled a bit on his history-- at one point he failed his bac (the end of high school exams used for university entrance) and went to work for his father. He and Basilie then represented two avenues to success: him, hard work and her, education/ family background. This is starting to sound like a blog entry. May have to copy it and post. Then I made Ét narrowly pass his exam and make it into a prestigious private art school. And drop out when his father died. So he drove Basilie crazy because she wanted to attend a similar school and couldn't get in and he dropped out! Similar to the kind of jealousy she feels when he gets an O visa to the US and she gets an HB. But that bothered me because Ét probably wouldn't have the academic credentials or the money for such a school. BUT if he doesn't go to school, he'll end up conscripted into the army. Which I always believed his brother was serving his conscription when their father died. But really, Edmond is the one who went to university and has small children so realistically he would have a deferment.  It looks like if Étienne served his conscription, it would have been in 1977, and probably shortly after the independence of Djibouti. Étienne. Army. Djibouti. With me? I do not doubt he would be a lousy soldier, but I think he would be very clever in making social arrangements for the guys, and helping repair uniforms of his peers to avoid the hazing aspects of the military.  And what makes this interesting is according to the sources I could find, 98% of Djibouti women TODAY still undergo severe circumcision/ genital mutilation. And I think being an observer to a culture that does this could make him very pro-feminist. I also think that it would make some interesting conflict with Basilie about the status of women in the world, since she's an educated, upper class European and argue that the world has improved for women and Étienne would believe her a sheltered, ethnocentric brat. Angel"

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