Josephs Justice vs Everyday Use: Compare & Contrast

Josephs Justice vs Everyday Use: Compare & Contrast
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“Joseph’s Justice” is a story about the awkward position of Aboriginal Canadians. The native people in Canada have been treated as outsiders since expeditions arrived from Europe to colonize Canada. “Joseph’s Justice” shows how the natives were treated in an earlier period. This story was translated by Maria Campbell into English. One passage explains how Joseph received treatment by the soldiers.  The segment states:

A dem soldiers dey trowed Joseph right in front of dat dancing horse. Well Joseph he tells my Uncle he jump up as far as he can. He don want to get

a step on. (Campbell)

The natives, especially Joseph, in this story were treated not as people, but as things.  Things do not get justice, only humans.  If natives are treated like things, they do not get justice.  The natives, like Joseph, did not get justice.  They were ill-treated, used for amusement, and thrown about as if they were nothing.  Even the language in which this story was written shows how the natives were not educated in proper English.  This furthers the myth that because natives do not conform in proper English ways, they are not to be treated properly.

            Thomas King’s “Borders”, tells the story of a mother trying to cross the border to meet with her daughter, Laetitia.  However, she is a native Northern American, thus refuses to be defined as Canadian or American.  “It would have been easier if [she] had just said ‘Canadian’ and had been done with it but [we] could see that she is not going to do that.”  In the end, her refusal to define herself in one society or another cause the border police to turn her away.  This tale shows that in today’s world individuals must define themselves by societal norms, or face restrictions in acceptance, education, and travel.  Individuals cannot hold unique ancestry but labeled for a country or another.               

            Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is the story of two daughters and their mother.  One daughter, Maggie, stayed at home with her mother in the rural South on a poverty-stricken farm, while the other daughter, Dee left to be educated in a big city.  Dee wanted to come home and show off her poor heritage as an African American when all along she hated being raised on a poor rural farm.  Dee wanted finer things, instead of her mother and Maggie’s way of life, butchering, farming, churning butter, and quilting.  However, when meeting a new friend, Dee wanted to show her African roots.  She came home asking for quilts made by her grandmother to hang them as relics.  Her mother had promised them to Maggie, but Dee was indignant that Maggie would put the quilts to everyday use.  Dee felt “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!’ said.  ‘She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use’” (Walker).  What Dee did not realize was Maggie and their mother lived their life to the fullest in the situation they were given.  Unlike Dee who lived either in the future or past, never being content with her lot in life.

            “Two Kinds” is a tale about a stubborn mother and daughter.  The mother wanted her daughter to become a prodigy of some kind.  After different trials and errors, the mother decided her daughter would become a pianist.  The daughter decided she would not become a pianist.  It soon becomes clear that becoming a prodigy pianist is not the issue.  The issue is her mother’s dreams for her.  During a heated argument, the daughter shouted “I wish I were dead!  Like them!” (Tan).  The daughter was referring to her mother’s twins that died in China.  The mother realizes at that moment, she would rather have a live child that did not live up to her expectations, than a perfect one dead child.  The mother decided to give up her hopes and dreams, so her daughter could live her own life of happiness in America.

“The Naked Man” written by Greg Hollingshead is a story about a man returning from Australia to find an occupant living in his room.  This story lets the narrator take the backseat while relating to this experience.  Also important is the car a 50’s big flashy car.  The car became a way of saying something more to the point.  The car depicts images of the male ego.  Male egos are very showy, but weak to certain things, such as girlfriends.  The car represents parts of splendor and irrationality, just like the narrator and the “naked man” (Hollingshead).  The car also stays in the background, just like the narrator.  The story is symbolic, with many nuances and codes.  It leaves the reader’s imagination to be individually determined.  The humorous nature of coming home to find a naked man in your home leaves an impression on one’s mind.  It is hard to focus on the narrator when the characters he describes are so outrageous.  The absurdity of a naked person not leaving your property makes for an interesting tale. 

             Rohinton Mistry’s “Squatter”, tells of a man from India named Sarosh.  After coming to Toronto, Sarosh wants to assimilate.  He changed his name to Sid.  He told his family, that he would come home if he had not ‘become completely Canadian in exactly ten years’” (Mistry).  While trying to assimilate and become Canadian, Sid forgets his rich heritage.  Instead of coming from the perspective that he could contribute to society by being himself, Sid thought that only be becoming Canadian could he be of value to Canadian society.  “Squatter” could be told and retold throughout Canada, America, and other European countries.  The dominant culture, mostly white, seems to be alluring to immigrants.  They want to be Canadian or American, without realizing that they can contribute.  That is what makes these countries great, immigrants like Sid contributing to the culture, adding and changing what it means to be Canadian. 

Works Cited:

Campbell, Maria.  “Joseph’s Justice.”  The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction

USA:  Nelson College Indigenous, 2005.

Hollingshead, Greg.  “The Naked Man.”  The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction

USA:  Nelson College Indigenous, 2005.

King, Thomas.  “Borders.” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction

USA:  Nelson College Indigenous, 2005.

Mistry, Rohinton.  “Squatter.”  “Borders.” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction

USA:  Nelson College Indigenous, 2005.

Tan, Amy.  “Two Kinds.”  “Borders.” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction

USA:  Nelson College Indigenous, 2005.

Walker, Alice.  “Everyday Use.”  “Borders.” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction

USA:  Nelson College Indigenous, 2005.