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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
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Why does every community have its "outsiders"

Created: 03/24/11

Replies: 14

Posted Mar. 24, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
BookBrowse

Join Date: 11/16/10

Posts: 37

Why does every community have its "outsiders"

Much of the novel focuses on the notion of "otherness." Who is considered an outsider in Edgecombe St. Mary? How are the various village outsiders treated differently? Who are the "outsiders" in your community or country - and why do you think they are considered as such?


Posted Apr. 29, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rayp

Join Date: 04/29/11

Posts: 3

RE: Why does every community have its

Unfortunately, society in general perpetuate this. Even when we are more connected with other people in the world than ever before (social media, iphones, etc.) there is still an inate stereotype that remains --- that of the need to fear those who are different from us.

Even in a highly diverse society as that found in London, there are still those who prejudice against those not like them. It is almost like they need these 'outsiders' to justify their own existence. The prejudices in this novel that attempt to keep Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali apart are an unfortunate reality --- even in the new politically correct world we live in.


Posted May. 06, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
paulak

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 16

RE: Why does every community have its

Is there something about excluding others that makes us feel more secure about ourselves? I'm not an anthropologist but I wonder if this lies deep within our animal nature to gravitate toward those who are like us and away from those who are unlike us. Maybe this served as a protective behavior back in the day when it would have been quite treacherous to mess around with dinosaurs! However, it does seem that familiarity helps to overcome these innate tendencies and the more we are exposed, the greater our comfort.


Posted May. 06, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 386

Expert

RE: Why does every community have its 'outsiders'

I think there's absolutely something in our natures that causes us to gravitate to forming "tribes" of people like ourseves. We touched on this when discussing "The Help" a few weeks ago - asking whether racism is inherent or taught: http://www.bookbrowse.com/booktalk/messages.cfm?threadid=B6C4FDAA-FFAC-581F-C8DFD56A6281A25F

As for protecting us against dinosaurs - perhaps protection against mammoths and saber-toothed tigers would be more the order of the day - as I seem to recollect there's upwards of sixty million years between the end of the dinosaurs and humans - but that's another topic :)


Posted May. 07, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
virginiaw

Join Date: 05/07/11

Posts: 7

RE: Why does every community have its

I think of the bell curve when discussing "outsiders". There is wide diversity among all the cultures in this world; we are not all in the cookie cutter mold.


Posted May. 11, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
againstthetide

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 10

RE: Why does every community have its

As a Jew, who has lived in parts of the country where there aren't many Jews, I am somewhat familiar with being perceived as an outsider. But I am not religious and am very assimilated, so many don't know whether I am Jewish or not.

I think the sense of "otherness" really stems from a lack of familiarity with customs - - and it just is kinda easy to understand why the customs of others seem so darned strange to us (the insiders).

Yet, when you are surrounded by the unusual custom, it seems normal.

For example, no one really questions the fact that a medieval torture device is the symbol of Christianity worldwide - - to the extent that people wear it around their neck and build huge ones on the sides of buildings. Crosses are so so prevalent that we are comfortable with them.

But if a religious Jew wears a head covering, it really marks them as different and seems very strange to those of us who do not wear yarmulkes.

I just think that lack of familiarity with other cultures and what the meanings behind their rituals and symbols really are that just feels very uncomfortable. We don't want to offend others - - by staring, by asking questions about their symbols or rituals, so instead we take the easier route of avoiding. Which can be perceived as ostracizing.

So, "other" is just a descriptor for people not taking part in the majority culture and sticking to their own.


Posted May. 12, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
trezelineb

Join Date: 04/24/11

Posts: 16

RE: Why does every community have its

I think that all people tend to feel uncomfortable around other people who are in any way different from themselves. As an individual; I find that I think differently from others in my extended family. I am laughed at and ostracized by many. I find that I have to defend my very existence in the family group. Different people tend to make people who conform feel threatened. This is unfortunate but true.


Posted May. 12, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
trezelineb

Join Date: 04/24/11

Posts: 16

RE: Why does every community have its

I think that all people tend to feel uncomfortable around other people who are in any way different from themselves. As an individual; I find that I think differently from others in my extended family. I am laughed at and ostracized by many. I find that I have to defend my very existence in the family group. Different people tend to make people who conform feel threatened. This is unfortunate but true.


Posted May. 15, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
princessa

Join Date: 05/15/11

Posts: 10

Why does every community have its "outsiders"

It's the way society works. One can't have everyone in a community because people have biases, values, and beliefs that differ from what they experience - outside environment, parenting, interests etc. In a way, it's an avenue of preserving one's comfort level to be able to function without having to assimilate everything that one encounters in life.


Posted Jun. 02, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
phyllisr

Join Date: 05/04/11

Posts: 5

RE: Why does every community have its

Outsiders are a very real part of society. The 'us' against 'them' mentality is what, in many cases, unites a group. Just as patriotism seems most pervasive after an attack or during a war, the feeling of being against something or someone is a strong uniting factor. When there is no strong outside motivating factor, people seem to find this feeling in being against someone, designated by race, religion, or other quality. While it makes for difficult relationships in a community, it can also stimulate meaningful discussions about differences which lead to greater understanding. This seems to be the case between the Major and Mrs. Ali, in that each is open minded enough to change and accept new ideas. The hopeful thing is that maybe this acceptance will spread to others who see it working.


Posted Jun. 03, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dianes

Join Date: 05/16/11

Posts: 47

RE: Why does every community have its

I think it has alot to do with fear, fear that if we aren't part of the main stream or in any way different we will be ostracized. There are a few characters in our town, they just walk constantly and one sees them everywhere but very few poeple talk to them.


Posted Jun. 13, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lorrainer

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 4

RE: Why does every community have its

It is difficult for a community to accept new members because communities become insular. This is especially true in smaller communities. It doesn't have to be a different religion or ethnic newcomer, it can just be someone who moves into an establised community. For example, when we moved into a new community, my daughter was 8 years old. She was not invited to a single birthday party for 2 years. I suppose it was more hurtful to me than her, but this is an example of how "other" can simply mean someone new to the community and, from a similar background. Imagine what it is like for someone of a different culture to move into this type of community.


Posted Jun. 13, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
annar

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 31

RE: Why does every community have its

"Outsiders" are "different" from the general population. This may be because of their race, religion or political views. Whatever the reason it is sad. I wish I knew the answer. Maybe it is because we all want to "be alike" and anyone different makes us feel uncomfortable. I don't know.


Posted Jun. 13, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebeccag

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 1

RE: Why does every community have its

Outsiders are usually on the "outside" because people are excluding them; I would guess that most people new to a town (or of another culture/ethnicity) would love to be invited to parties and other social events. Maybe if we all looked around our own communities and included those who seem "left out", we would have a better world to live in?


Posted Jun. 14, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
SarahD451

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 12

RE: Why does every community have its

I don't know whether I agree if there is something in our natures that predisposes us to be unsure about those who are different than us, but I do think that 'some' people thrive on creating a hierarchy in social situations with themselves at the top. When I first thought about this question, I immediately thought about the nasty ladies in the town who were rude to Mrs. Ali, presumably because she wasn't English. Then, though, I remembered that Mrs. Khan treats Mrs. Ali exactly the same way as the ladies in the town, which makes the point, in my view, that people are exclusionary for a variety of reasons and that "outsider" can be defined in any number of ways. At the root, it's insecurity that propels people to act this way. It must be, and I think the Mrs. Khan - Mrs. Ali interaction supports this idea. Mrs. Khan has no reason to be rude to Mrs. Ali except that she wants "everyone else" to know that she isn't a shop owner, a position she's designated as below a doctor's wife.


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