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Judgment in the House of Sand and Fog

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Judgment in the House of Sand and Fog

Judgment in the House of Sand and Fog

People place judgment on one another every day based on differences. Sometimes it is done subconsciously; sometimes it is done on purpose. In the book The House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III, two different cultures were represented; Kathy represented the culture of the western civilization, whereas Behrani represented the culture of Persians. People judge one another based on unimportant things, and get judged based on those same things as well. Two cultures were used to amplify how different their cultures were from one another. Throughout the book cultures vocalized what they did not like about the other cultures by placing judgment on people based on ethnicity, appearance, and status; despite how different the cultures were, they had something in common, negative judgment. In a world where there is so much diversity, the only way for all cultures to get along is to place judgments aside and accept the differences.

The book is introduced with Behrani placing judgment on the people he works with. He is judging the other people based on their race, and their status. Behrani refers to the men he works with as if they don’t deserve to even be in his presence. “He is goh, the shit of life. They are all goh,” (pg 16). Even though many of the men he works with do not deserve to be regarded so low, Behrani judges them as he would if he still maintained the position he had in Iran as a colonel. Behrani and his family also judge Kathy for being American. When Behrani explains to his son the situation their family is now a part of he explains it in a way that is judging of Americans. He says, “Remember what I have told you of so many Americans: they are not disciplined and have not the courage to take responsibility for their actions… [t]hey are like little children,” (pg. 172), Behrani is teaching his child the negative stereotypes that he uses to judge Americans. Kathy Nicolo and Lester Burdon are no better than Behrani. Lester, while attempting to scare the Behrani family out of the house says, “I understand your friend the Shah used to make a real habit of it,” (pg. 167). Lester judged Behrani’s morals and his past based on the fact that Behrani was an ethnic man, a Persian man, photographed with a man who has a bad history. He also threatened to have the INS check out the Behrani family, and “pull strings” if necessary to get the Behranis out of the house, even though the Behrani family had full U.S. citizenship at that point. These judgments passed out by both cultures show that all cultures function using judgment. In the reading The Case for Contamination, Appiah states that some people like and some people don’t like that certain cultures have accepted being “able to get a discussion going about Ronaldo, Mike Tyson or Tupac,” and being able to “find a bottle of Guinness or Coca-Cola,” (paragraph 9). Many people judge people who have accepted western civilizations, considering their identities threatened.

Different cultures possess different ideas of how people should present themselves. Appearance is a large part of culture, because a complete stranger can be judged based on their appearance. Behrani is the kind of man who always has to look put together. He will not let people see him in un-kept clothing. When he worked on the highway doing manual labor, he would wear a “work shirt”, however when he left he would go to the bathroom at a hotel where he parked his car and change immediately and wash up. He did not want anybody to see him looking dirty. The Persians introduced in the book all dressed in Persian attire, which they had been accustomed to wearing before they moved to the United States. When Kathy and Lester drove by the house and saw the families on the widows walk they made judgments immediately. “Jesus. Look at them,” (pg. 131) says Lester, regarding their all wearing Persian formal attire. Kathy and Lester dress in jeans and t-shirts, Kathy wears shorts that leave most of her legs revealed, and wears her hair messy and down. When Behrani first sees her he observes, “She is dressed in short pants and a short shirt without sleeves… Once again I shake my head at how these American women live. I look once more at her naked legs and feet, then I return to my yard with my tea,” (pg. 71). Behrani judges Kathy as being a “typical American woman” who leaves her legs naked and bare, a characteristic which he later uses to justify to himself that Kathy is a whore. Clothing and cleanliness have a large impact on how others judge each other. In Appiah’s text, a cultural preservationist says, “They have no real choice. We’ve dumped cheap Western clothes into their markets, and they can no longer afford the silk they used to wear,” (paragraph 18). Even a cultural preservationist judges the way people dress considering

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