The world that we live in is so immense, that the people who live in it is so diverse in culture, lifestyle, language and even skin color. We live in different environments and countries yet with all these dissimilarities, we share something in common. That is what we call social classes, which was practiced primarily during the beginning of world civilization. Our world began with this system and thereby influenced the generations after them. People were then identified simply as slaves or kings yet very unjust.
People eventually awakened from a lengthy stupor and learned to fight for their human rights to exterminate these social strata and discriminations that exist in the society even until today. It is sad but factual and real. Even in the most democratic country, social classes still exist in modern times and manifest in terms of financial, cultural ethnicity and even racial aspects. We still have what we call as upper, middle and lower classes basing on their financial capacity. It is really part of our world but we have grown to be more considerate and tolerant to each other.
In the story A&P, the setting of the story happened in a store in a small town five miles away from the beach. People here are generally conservative thus concerned about propriety. The story began when Sammy, who worked as a cashier in this grocery store called A&P saw three young girls who came in the store barefoot, wearing swimming suits. This of course does not occur everyday in this town, so naturally, Sammy and his co-worker Stokesie were stunned. Even the other grocery shoppers were surprised to these girls confidently walking along the aisles looking for something they need to buy.
When the girls were on the counter being manned by Sammy, they caught the eye of Mr. Lengel, who manages the store. Mr. Lengel who also teaches Sunday school could not help but approach the girls and told them “Girls, this isn’t the beach. ” This embarrassed the girls and one of them said, “We are decent”. The girls then paid and hurried to go back to their car outside and leave. Before the girls left, Sammy suddenly told Mr. Lengel that he is quitting his job, deliberately saying it while the girls were of hearing range to present himself as their hero but when he left the store, the girls left already, putting his efforts to nothing.
Sammy then realized that his impulsiveness led his to lose his job which can greatly affect his life and his family. Living in different areas in the same country also means having diverse cultures. Urban areas especially the big cities have displays of a more liberated lifestyle compared to the rural ones. The contrasts of these two societies are very apparent in this story. These girls didn’t think they did anything wrong by walking in a store wearing swimming suits but for residents of that community, it was very improper and offensive.
Sammy seemed in awe of these girls and impulsively quit his job just to become a momentary hero for them. Seeing this trio of girls who have been used to a different upbringing due to a social class they grew in opened Sammy’s eyes to something different from the one he is used to. The second story was entitled “Barn Burning” which happened in the 1930’s. It was about an impoverished family led by the father called Abner Snopes, who works for farmers in way of rental contracts. This family has been moving from one farm to another for several years because Abner always gets in trouble.
Abner is so full of bitterness and insecurities that pushed him to do ludicrous deeds to the farm owners he works in. His temper heats up even with the slightest provocation and gets consumed with hatred which impels him to burn the barns of the farms who worked for. All these were done witnessed by his two sons, twin daughters, sister-in-law and his wife who tags along with him every time he needed to move. He was put in question in Peace’s courts several times because of his arsonist tendencies. One time, he burned a barn to get back at his neighbor named Mr.
Harris because his hog strayed to his neighbor’s property and defiantly refused to return it if he would not pay the fine of a dollar. He then sent a black man whom he calls rudely as a nigger and asks him to pay the dollar to claim his hog and tell the neighbor, “Wood and hay kin burn. ” Later the barn of that neighbor was burned. After the inquest the Snopes family had to move to another farm outside that county. When they arrived at another farm, he immediately paid a visit to the owner of the farm and insisted on going inside the white carpeted house with his filthy shoes and smeared dung on it from his shoes.
He was later told in court to pay the farm owner ten bushels of corn which he obviously could not afford since they can barely put food on their table. He then later decided to burn the barn of that farm owner for revenge. The only person in the Snopes’ family, who truly asserted himself to correct the misdeeds of his father, was Abner’s youngest son who was a little boy named Colonel Sartoris Snopes. He wanted his father’s habitual barn burning to be stopped and so told the farm owner of what was happening.
Colonerl Sartoris was righteous and did what he believed was the right thing to do even if his father’s barn burning is revealed. I am not trying to defend but understand Abner for the things he did in the story. What he did was wrong and there was no just compelling for his actions but Abner’s behavior was in some ways a result of what society laid as basis for a person’s worth. He became irrational and resorted to violence when he thought he was unfairly treated instead of trying to do things in a proper way.
Social classification then was so vividly observable. The owners of a farm are far more affluent compared to the families in the likes of the Snopes’ who does the hard, laborious work of tilling the land, growing the crops then harvesting it yet earning so little for it. The unfairness of that era was evident and created a huge gap between these social classes which affects the lives of those considered as inferior like Abner’s family. They deserved equal opportunity to live a more comfortable and easy life.
Sammy and Abner has the same impulsiveness to do what they think could put justice into a situation without thinking of the consequences of their action. Sammy quit his job to show that he dissented the way Mr. Lengel embarrassed the girls which was implied to be a decision that would affect his family. On the other hand, Abner resorted to violence to solve his predicament which apparently worsens his family’s situation. Social stratification affects the lives of the people. It may enrich their lives or curtail their opportunities.
These days it is a relief to see that the lines between these classes are not as vivid as during the time of our forefathers and are now slowly fading into progression. There are still destitute men and women on the streets in most communities. There are still discriminations among races and gender. There are still people oppressed by their leaders. But it is evident that in our society today people are more aware of their rights and would definitely fight for it in whatever way they can. These stories showed the development in how people treated each other during these two eras and the history of social classes.