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Published: 26-10-2019

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Culture Clash: The Struggle with Racial Identity in “Strong Horse Tea”

Community is as life sustaining as food and water. It offers human connection, a sense of identity, and support. Nonetheless, human nature leads individuals to seek experiences separate from their communities. In Alice Walker’s story “Strong Horse Tea”, Rannie goes a step additional, rejecting her community in search of validation from a different one particular. She believes that connection to white society will come only via the rejection of her black identity. This belief leads to her mistrust of Sarah’s medicine. The mailman, who offers the reader white society’s point of view, shows white culture’s disinterest in Rannie’s struggle. Right after white society fails her, Rannie gives herself completely to black tradition, allowing Sarah to practice her medicine on Snooks. However, her initial resistance to her community destroys her opportunity to save her kid. Cultural division tends to make Snooks’s death inevitable. By means of Rannie’s struggle with neighborhood identity, Walker illustrates the consequences of cultural division.

Rannie’s rejection of Sarah’s standard medicine shows her subconscious need to separate herself from pain that stems from her black identity. By way of her invalidation of Sarah, shown in her statement, “I do not believe in none of that swamp magic” (Walker 477), Rannie attempts to acquire superiority more than the rest of the black community. This want for superiority stems from Rannie’s internalized mistrust of black tradition brought on by white culture’s assertion of values on her neighborhood. The circulars represent the shift of Rannie’s trust from her neighborhood to one more. They represent the wealth and way of life of white people. Her request of much more circulars “to paper the inside of her house to maintain out the wind” (Walker 478) illuminates her belief that white way of life has the capacity to save and defend her. The papers not only insulate her from the cold of winter, but also fuel her hope that white society will acknowledge and relieve her suffering.

The mailman who brings the circulars reveals the futility of this hope. The shifts of point of view to the mailman conveys the disconnect between Rannie’s perception of herself and white culture’s perception of her. Rannie’s query “Who’d go and ignore a tiny sick infant like my snooks?” (Walker 477) shows her belief that denial of black culture will prove sufficient in gaining empathy from the white world. The mailman, Rannie’s delegate from white society, describes Rannie as hunting “so pitiful hanging there in the rain” (White 479), displaying that the greatest white folks have to provide the black neighborhood is pity. His option to bring Sarah to heal Snooks as an alternative of the white medical professional reveals the inadequacy of pity in inspiring sacrifice. Pity in spot of empathy shows the deep chasm amongst the two races, which leads to white society’s comprehensive rejection of Rannie.

Rannie’s eventual acceptance of Sarah’s medicine establishes the necessity of neighborhood dependence. Sarah tells Rannie “I’s the medical doctor kid-that there mailman didn’t git no additional with that message than the road in front of my house” (Walker 480). Hearing this statement, Rannie’s view of white society as her savior diminishes. Her acceptance of white apathy enables her recognize “the time she had wasted waiting for the true doctor” (Walker 481). This realization brings the severity of the rift among races into stark light. Masked by her hope for white acknowledgement lies the truth: she will only discover compassion and charity from other black individuals. The mailman’s betrayal forces Rannie to shift her trust back to black tradition. She not only makes it possible for Sarah to practice her medicine on Snooks, but commits to it entirely via her panicked collection of the “strong horse tea”. The disgusting, humiliating nature of this act shows her complete dedication to Sarah. Despite this desperate action, Snooks’ illness progresses previous the point of healing. Rannie becomes of victim of the conflict between white and black culture. White society sacrifices absolutely nothing to support her and causes Rannie’s rejection of black tradition, proving itself as the accurate antagonist in Rannie’s story.

Snooks’s inevitable death reveals the suffering that final results from the divide in between white and black culture. Rannie’s dismissal of Sarah illustrates her want to distance herself from her own community. She hopes distance will produce space for connection amongst her and white society, but the mailman’s perception of Rannie deems any connection impossible. Rannie sooner or later realizes this, and provides her trust totally to Sarah and black tradition. But her inability to save her kid shows that any separation from one’s neighborhood leads to tragedy. Even strong horse tea can't mend the broken partnership between white and black culture.
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