Veronica is a short story by Adewale Maja-Pearce. It teaches of how cultures, traditions, relationships, expectations and money force two people raised in the same cultural background, to separate and move on, for better and for worse as their lives take different paths. The story shows the great contrast between African village life and African town life. In the story, Okekï¿½ the ever-lasting male friend of Veronica is drawn by the attraction of the city for the opportunities he sees for himself.
The young woman Veronica on the other hand does not desire to leave their decomposing village for the city. She rejects Okeke’s offer for numerous reasons.
The Gold Cadillac is a similar short story by Mildred Taylor. The Gold Cadillac tells the tale of a young black family from the North of America who purchase a new and rather extravagant car. Much to the despair of their relatives, the father of the household decides to ride the car down to the south, which is soon conveyed to be very racist.
This story holds similar themes to that of Veronica as it shows, the contrast in how people from different cultural backgrounds are treated in different parts of America. It is also similar to veronica in that we see the contrasting beliefs amongst the same culture of people within the family.
In the story of Veronica we are immediately informed that the local people of this village exist under cultural tradition. The author brings emphasise to them living in a small traditional village with the potential for strong beliefs and cultural traditions by the use of, “my native village”, which suggests remote, old fashioned almost primitive moral ideas. This is because the word, “native” is often used to describe tribes, in distant undeveloped ethnic areas. This assumption is confirmed as we learn that one of these beliefs is the important contrast between men and woman’s expectations. Adewale Maja-Pearce calls attention to this through presenting to Veronica’s responsibilities to the reader, “a lot of the responsibility for bringing up the other children had fallen on her”, the use of the word, “fallen” also implies that she did not chose to be given these responsibilities, but that her cultural traditions had forced them on her.
We also recognize that the society in which Veronica is living in is male dominated and that men feel that they are more important, by the use of Maja-Pearce explaining the way in which Veronica’s father acts towards her, “Night after night I would lie awake listening to her screams”, as her beats her. One can be certain that this is very much the opinion of the entire village as another man, Okeke’s father, would not intervene, implying that this nature of behaviour towards women was common-place, “cursing myself for my own physical inadequacy and my father for his unwillingness to become involved.”
This shows the importance of these cultures and traditions to people, because a grown man would not prevent the suffering of one of his own people where he had the opportunity, due to the expectations of their society, enforced by their traditions, and further shows the native peoples strong belief in it. Adewale Maja-Pearce also explores the different opportunities that men and women receive in the native village.
Women, such as Veronica, were not authorised, what was in many countries at the time the story was written, the right of an education, as men such as Okekï¿½ were,” When I was twelve I started at the secondary school in town a few miles away”, she included this to the story to enforce the strong contrast of opportunities and rights between men and women in the village Women were not allowed to attend a school in this village because in the eyes of the natives, they had no reason to as it was expected of the women to remain at their home and perform chores, such as cleaning, caring for the younger children and cooking for the family, she shows this through veronica’s knowledge of what she must do, “I have to go and cook my father will be home soon”, the Author also stresses this point by the use of , “I have to”, which implies that Veronica has no choice.
However this further illustrates how Veronica is used to her responsibilities, enforced by the culture which she lives in and actually accepts her status quo. “I can’t just leave my family.” This demonstrates how Veronica, as she gets older, comes to believe that her place is the home, and that all of the responsibility and unfair expectation is justified. However there was a time in which veronica was curious about education and would have liked to go to school, “and she asked me endless questions about my school”. It also further emphasises her loyalty to her family, as when asked, “What have they ever done for you?” she replies without hesitation, showing her certainty in what she says, “Don’t talk like that, they are my family, that is enough.” Most interestingly, she shows much devotion and respect to her father as she cooks for him despite the way he treated her throughout her life, “And although her father had long stopped beating her in every other respect nothing had really altered”.
Caring for people for Veronica was much harder than anyone in Britain could understand, as she would have had no modern appliances; everything would have been done by hand, which is much, more time consuming. The way in which she responded to Okeke’s remark, (stated above), with such certainty also shows that she thought it as a duty to her family to perform the traditions and expectations enforced by her society. In conclusion this shows how important tradition was to the people of this culture in the story because, Veronica is willing to put her family first, before her, in her order of priorities even though it jeopardized her future, because if she had of gone to the city and become a secretary as she was offered, she may have been successful and gained wealth and happiness as Okekï¿½ did, however she refused because of her outstanding devotion to her family and further because it fits with the cultural tradition of women caring for their families, she did not even consider the proposal for a minute, which also shows that she, “knows her place”, and what is expected of her. Veronica plays a menial role in life, but she accepts it, as she plays a subservient role working for her father, never trying to achieve anything more as she believes that she neither has the capabilities or the reason to go to the city as she already has a role to play where she is, as carer for her family, and almost slave to her father. This is why she rejects the city that symbolises success, “Don’t talk foolishness”
The key women in, “Veronica”, and, “The Gold Cadillac”, can be seen to have some very crucial similarities. It can be observed that both characters feel they have a very strong duty towards their families but furthermore are willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of these families. Veronica gave up the chance to lead a successful life in the city where she would achieve independence as she would break away from the chauvinistic society, “I leave that for others, my own place is here”. We can be assured that she does this for the sake of family by the use of, “I can’t just leave my family”, this again shows her strong sense of duty towards her family. The same can be observed in, “The Gold Cadillac”. The mother of the story, unlike the naive children, understands the dangerous racism of the south and the possibility that he may be in danger. We can see her feeling of duty towards the family through her willingness to risk her life and her daughters just to be with her husband so that they are all together, “the girls and I will be going with you”.
There is a large contrast between this traditional African village life and the modern African town life. The reader is alerted of this contrast by the use of the different beliefs of the women in the Town, when compared to those living In the village who believe in the more traditional values, “God has blessed us with as son”, whereas the women in the village are far more, “materialistic”‘ this is shown by the use of Adewale Maja-Pearce shocking Okekï¿½ who was brought up on traditional village beliefs, as he found that women were not as interested in him as a person, but for his money, “All the women I meet are only interested in my money and cars”. This contrast is also shown by Veronica, who believes in village traditions, when she responds to Okekï¿½, “I don’t believe you”, she cannot understand their views.
Adewale Maja-Pearce includes this huge contrast between traditional African village life and modern African town life, so that she could separate the two characters. And show how Okekï¿½, who moved on with his life became successful in the wealth area, whereas Veronica who did not let go of what she was brought up on, found much misery, but was blessed with a son and a husband. Veronica found love.
I think that Adewale Maja-Pearce was trying to stress that although cultures may seem unjust with their traditions from onlookers, who cannot understand them, that are in some aspects bad, represented by Veronicas father, where these cultures are represented in the story as the, “native village life”, can also please people with different moral beliefs, such as Veronica who did not desire material possessions, as these people’s cultures allow them find what they value, for veronica love and security with her own family, “He is a good man, god has blessed us with a son”. Whereas places of opportunity, represented by the use of the Town which Okekï¿½ moved to, provide liberation, that brings material success, such as wealth, however it may not bring true happiness, as in the case of Okekï¿½ who found career success, but did not succeed in love as he has no wife, “I have no wife”, “All the women I meet are only interested in money and cars”.
Cite this essay
Explore the Importance of Cultures and Tradition. (2017, Sep 27). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/explore-the-importance-of-cultures-and-tradition-essay