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Re: [Slovak-World] TIMRAVA: class distinctions

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  • 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 1 of 24 , May 1, 2003
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      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 2 of 24 , May 2, 2003
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        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 3 of 24 , May 2, 2003
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          > 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
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