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The Cultural Expedition

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 07:22 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45 
  • Words: 704
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Throughout the United States and a good portion of the world, popular consensus claims a love for traveling to exotic locations, popular locations such as the Caribbean or any other warm and sunny islands dotted around the world. Avey, the protagonist in author Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow, engages in a cruise to and throughout the Caribbean islands with two of her friends. However, for Avey, this cruise would be a trip like non other. In what seems like a coincidental series of events, Avey is immersed into a culture to which she has been exposed to but has limited understanding, a culture she will soon explore in significant depth. Avey’s “cruise” turns out to be an extensive expedition into a cultural world that will lead her to a profound understanding of her heritage, and more importantly, herself.

Avey is introduced to the concept of cultural awareness by her Aunt Cuney. Aunt Cuney emphasizes the story of the Ibos, which focuses on the hardships of African-Americans coming to America on slave ships. In her struggle to keep out of the poverty that encompasses many Afro-Americans, Avey develops a strong work ethic and succeeds in rising to a white-defined middle class lifestyle. Yet she is able to suppress the true meaning of the Ibos’ struggle to America, and although it provides Avey with a sense of her heritage, it became a remote episode to which she cannot relate to personally. However, the story is part of her subconscience and gives her a base on which to build this dormant cultural awareness, This base, in fact, accounts for the nightmares Avey endures which reflect   her struggle for social acceptance and her continuing struggle to find her social identity.

Avey then embarks on a cruise aboard the Bianca Pride. Ironically, the English translation of the ship’s name is “White Pride”, a symbol that may have reinforced Avey’s awareness of the cultural and racial status she holds. While on this cruise, Avey is culturally...

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