Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [Slovak-World] TIMRAVA: class distinctions

Expand Messages
  • Martin Votruba
    ... Agreed, Helen. It does mean that. I should have responded to the whole question, and checked the whole passage, not just the quoted segment. _kostol_
    Message 1 of 24 , May 1, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      > Doesn't this mean basically what Norma has: "Are you crazy, girl?
      > Don't you know what a good position Chmel'ovo is?"

      Agreed, Helen. It does mean that. I should have responded to the whole
      question, and checked the whole passage, not just the quoted segment.
      _kostol_ means a building, _cirkev_ means the institution, so saying
      _kostol je velmi dobry_ would be like saying, e.g., "the gym is good,"
      she'd be describing the building. (I hope I understood the question this
      time?)


      Martin
    • BJLK@aol.com
      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
      Message 2 of 24 , May 1, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        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.

        Regards,

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


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Nick Holcz
        ... I don t think that it has disappeared even now. Your experience is a bit like mine my mother was born in Hamburg to a well to do family , her mother and
        Message 3 of 24 , May 1, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          At 01:03 PM 1/05/2003 -0400, you wrote:
          >In our present-day lives it's difficult to understand how pervasive class
          >distinctions influenced the daily lives of prior generations.


          I don't think that it has disappeared even now.

          Your experience is a bit like mine my mother was born in Hamburg to a well
          to do family , her mother and children moved to England and still had
          servants and lots of money. My father was a Slovak grocer and they met
          because he joined the British army in WW2 and there was shock horror from
          her family about how she married beneath her class. The problem was solved
          when we moved to Australia where no one knew them or cared less.

          I suppose the only time it was discussed was when relating the events of
          their lives to my brother and I and we would only notice the difference in
          their ability to speak and write in English.

          Nick


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Michelle A Mader
          ... I think it depends on where you are from. My husband is from Germany and occasionally, earlier in our marriage, we would talk about moving there. My MIL
          Message 4 of 24 , May 2, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            Nick wrote:
            >At 01:03 PM 1/05/2003 -0400, you wrote:
            > >In our present-day lives it's difficult to understand how pervasive class
            > >distinctions influenced the daily lives of prior generations.
            >
            >
            >I don't think that it has disappeared even now.
            >
            >Your experience is a bit like mine my mother was born in Hamburg ...

            I think it depends on where you are from. My husband is from Germany
            and occasionally, earlier in our marriage, we would talk about moving
            there. My MIL was always horrified by such talk and tried to explain
            to me about the class distinctions and how I'd never get used to them.
            She talked about how the family of the doctor would barely acknowledge
            the existence of the postman, even if they lived next door to each other
            in identical circumstances.


            Michelle Maco Mader
            Cleveland, Ohio USA
            "I have never let my schooling interfere
            with my education." - Mark Twain
          • Martin Votruba
            ... The distinction between social groups we get in Timrava s stories is not one where deference is obligatory. The relationship of the farmers to the
            Message 5 of 24 , May 2, 2003
            • 0 Attachment
              > What actions of the peasants would be required to show proper respect to
              > the 'betters' as they met them in town

              The distinction between social groups we get in Timrava's stories is not
              one where deference is obligatory. The relationship of the farmers to the
              intelligentsia is not one of subordination, i.e. the intelligentsia are
              not their landlords, masters. Whatever deference was shown would have
              stemmed especially from the narrator's father being the minister, and
              teacher.

              It can be compared to the American doctors addressing their adult, often
              older patients by their first name, and the patients addressing them as
              "doctor," plus perhaps the doctor's last name. Many, if not most
              Americans show deference to their doctors, accept the unequal, subordinate
              position in mutual address, and think it "natural." It's the same when
              the Americans' interact with the clergy: e.g., people call them "Father,"
              and are addressed by their first name by the priest, although many
              parishioners are richer than the clergyman, older, sometimes in high
              positions in their jobs. That's an approximation of the "class" deference
              we see in this story.

              There are tons of ways how class distinctions are expressed in social
              interactions in the U.S.; and most (by no means all) marriages take place
              within one's own "class" defined by education, wealth, family, race --
              just like they did in the past. There's more marriage "outside one's
              group" today than in the past when we define class by the married couple's
              parents, but that's because some of the "class" distinctions between the
              parents have been erased with the next generation: most people finish high
              school today, the majority go on to colleges, the standard of living of
              most of the poorest 20% bears little resemblance to what it meant to be
              poor a century ago, etc.

              However, just like in Timrava's village, few American offspring of parents
              with college degrees marry someone who is hardly literate,
              Caucasian--African-American marriages are but a fraction of all marriages,
              doctors marry their nurses, but not the cleaning women in their hospitals,
              etc. What Timrava describes follows the same principle, but it is more
              striking, and interesting, because it's in a different guise, in a
              different time and place.

              So, to pick up on what Helen mentioned, the narrator's family would
              probably have addressed their farm hands, and perhaps at least the younger
              farmers in the village informally, while the farmers would probably have
              addressed the parson's family formally.

              At the same time, there was plenty of interaction between the
              intelligentsia and the farmers, as Timrava's stories show. If she weren't
              up to date on much of the village gossip, if she hadn't interacted with
              the other villagers quite intimately, she would not have been able to
              write many of her stories. There is no difference in Timrava's attention
              to and intricate description of the psychology, feelings, second-guessing
              of other people's motives, etc., when her protagonist is a girl from the
              intelligentsia, as in this story, and when the central character of her
              story is a farmer.


              Martin

              votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.