After reading, Sons for the Return Home, I was especially surprised by the characters desire to make each other feel what it is like to be a member of the opposing culture. I then began to realize this practice is seen in many of the texts we have read.
When the girl takes the boy to the university party, she leaves him by himself to go socialize with her friends, all along fully knowing he is very shy and lacks the social skills which would make him feel comfortable in the setting. Similarly, the boy deliberately makes a point for her to feel awkward at his Samoan church party. On more than one occasion during this particular scene he states that he didn’t say anything to her about the reasons she would not fit in but rather thought, “she had to find out for herself” (60). This concept was very interesting, I personally got the feeling that both of them knew they had to have a first hand experience of what the other felt as well as know what the other culture was like. In the same way, it is the idea of having to experience the racism the other feels in order to truly love one another. The boy, when questioned about his motives for making her feel humiliated during the church gathering, tells her “now you know something of what it’s like being part of a minority group” (63).
Likewise, in Potiki, the native people are confronted by the Dollarman in hopes to gain their trust as well as an agreement to sell their land and have it be used for “progressive” resort areas and attractions. When they agree to meet the man Toko questions how they should set up the meeting house, Roimata responds that they should “let the man be like everyone else because it is good psychology”, Toko asks “you mean let him sit on the floor in his suit and his sock feet so he’ll feel a fool, him not being used to our ways?” Roimata simply remarks, “I mean let the boot be on the other foot for a change. Let him feel what we sometimes feel . . . in different situations” (100). This passage like those in Sons for the Return Home, was very powerful. The concept was extremely profound; if the man was to feel uncomfortable and out of place he might be able to see their views and understand where they are coming from.
In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the Igbo people are encountered with the Christian religion and faced with the ideas of conversion to the new religion. The majority of the people immediately feel overwhelmed and bombarded, however, the Christian make a point to let them know they too often feel the same way. The Igbo people respond by trying to make the Christians understand their ways of life and try to immerse them into their culture, the Christian leaders agree to this and are able to somewhat understand their ways. At the end, the tribe and the religious people realize they have more in common than they first thought, it is even stated that Mr. Brown, one of the most prominent figure in the conversions “learned a good deal about the religion of the clan” (181).
After reading these stories I realized that they all have similar themes of one feeling out of place or uncomfortable. I thought it was very interesting that they all realized the need to feel what another felt or went through in order to fully understand them and even appreciate them and their culture.