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Society does not always alienate people due to their differences. Sometimes, certain people alienate themselves from society. in the novel, Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks, a Puritan Minister’s daughter, Bethia separates herself from society. Bethia’s actions and thoughts cause her to feel left out from society, contributing to the central idea of persevering through struggles. Today, education is much easier to come by for all genders and races. However, in the 17th century in the English colonies, a proper education was reserved for the men.
Throughout the novel, Bethia yearns for an education and stops at nothing to receive one. When Bethia was younger, around the age of 12, she would “chime in with the answers” during the brother, Makepeace’s lessons. Later on, Bethia’s father expresses to her that most men would not appreciate their wife being smarter than them.
Even though Bethia’s father says this only for Bethia’s own good. This information from the novel reveals how Bethia already feels personally set apart from her society’s ways.
Later on in her life, she decides to take a job at the Harvard buttery, just so she can hear the educational lectures and learn. This is quite dramatic, since that type ofjob is viewed as degrading for a woman of her standards. Though society attempts to prevent an education for Bethia, she still perseveres. The colonists on the island (Bethia’s home) were highly racist towards the Wampanoag. Those that did not convert to Puritanism was shunned upon by the colonist’s society.
However, the Wampanoag also alienated the white Puritans from their society as well. When Bethia goes to Caleb’s uncle, in desperate search for a way to help Caleb, who is dying, she is ﬁrst rejected. This proves that since Bethia was white and Puritan, she was set apart from the Wampanoag society. For the most part, the alienation Bethia feels from society is from her own doings. She ﬁts in quite well with the Puritan society. However, she continuously strives for things that are not easy to come by for a person of her race and gender. Regardless of all this, she perseveres through these hardships.
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