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2401Re: [Slovak-World] TIMRAVA: class distinctions--Examples please?

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  • Claudia Medvik
    May 2, 2003
      I can see that there would some similar to the British class system, but how would they be expressed in everyday life? What actions of the peasants would be required to show proper respect to the 'betters' as they met them in town? In church? A servants or tenants? Merely doff a hat in respect? Or were there specific phrases and mannerism demanded? ( much like our African brothers had to show down south if they wished to stay alive?) The Slovaks were a conquered people, how many generations did that have its roots?

      Forgive me for being nosey again. But people's memories are more trustworthy than author's.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: BJLK@...
      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2003 1:03 PM
      Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] TIMRAVA: class distinctions

      In our present-day lives it's difficult to understand how pervasive class
      distinctions influenced the daily lives of prior generations. This theme of
      class differences echoes through Timrava's fiction in a very natural way.
      Even though the fictional characters have imaginary personalities which the
      author has developed in varying degrees, there is no ambiguity about their
      class standing. I have no doubt that class-related social artifacts still
      remain in Slovakia (and in the United States) today.

      Something Timrava does very well when describing class differences is to
      fully explore the antagonisms that exist as a kind of ribbon interwoven with
      the everyday social interaction between her characters. These run the gamut
      from playful insolence to bitter resentment.

      My own family is an example of how social-class differences continued to
      influence relationships in ways that were occasionally inappropriate. My
      mother, who left almost all of her family behind, came from a
      well-educational, well-traveled family of professionals, educators, and
      clergy, while my father, whose entire family emigrated to the United States,
      was from a much different social stratum.

      I can remember both of them discussing how lucky they were to meet each other
      in the United States, because they would not have been able to even speak to
      each other (much less marry) had they met in Slovakia. However, their worst
      arguments were over "the right way" to do something. For example, my mother
      loved fine linens and china, good silver, and nice table manners, while my
      father was more concerned about whether there was enough to eat. They both
      agreed that it was necessary to say grace before every meal.

      My father's family never completely warmed up to my mother and often made her
      life miserable--they always regarded her with a little bit of awe and slight
      resentment no matter how hard she tried to fit in. It took me years to
      figure out why. My observations were confirmed by a long conversation I had
      on the subject recently with a kindly Slovak senior.

      I sometimes wonder how Timrava's emigres are doing in today's world.


      B. J. Licko-Keel (BJLK@...)

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