A Difference of Culture

     Books can take you to a different place and time without ever physically going there. It is a journey of the mind. They can let you "move" in with families and see various ways of life. An excellent example of a book that does just this is Tennessee Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire. This book captures the soul of a family from New Orleans. I learned a great deal from this book. I was able to see how much a society can differ from one region to the next.

     Let us begin with the memorable Stanley Kowalski. His first line that he bellows sums him up, "Hey, there! Stella, baby!" I could just see him in my head strutting down the street with his sweat shining on his muscles and his "rebel" grin on his face. He portrays the typical lower class New Orleans man. He's a man, and he knows it. He wants control, yet he tries to love his wife in the only way he knows how. His days are filled with grease, alcohol, and fun.

     Next, we have Stella Kowalski, Stan's wife. Stella does not seem to quite fit in with this group. This is so because she comes from a different culture. New Orleans is not her home, and it emerges in her character. She is softer spoken and wants to help everyone. She is the typical giving, catering wife. She is attracted, though, to Stanley and his way of life. It seems to be an escape for her. She does not have to be anything special in that world.

     The last character to be looked at is Blanch DuBois. From the beginning we know she is not from this town. She makes out as if it is a vulgar place; however, as time goes on she fits right in. I believe her personality resembles that of New Orleans much more than any of the other women. The words that describe her and the city seem to blend. These could include "seedy," "dark," and "sexy." She and New Orleans are one.

     In my mind I have the perfect pictures of these characters, and the 1951 film of A Streetcar Named Desire fulfilled my expectations. The look of the movie could not have been improved upon. Marlon Brando had the "bad boy" creeping from this pores. The combination of his looks, talk, and his entire presence was Stanley Kowalski. He did not have to raise his voice to get his point across. Vivien Leigh played an excellent Blanche. Her voice flowed slowly and seductively out of her mouth. She knew just what to get by using that voice. The movie itself was a dark black and white. Shadows filled the screen and gave it a mystical feel. It reminded me of a dark alley that I do not want to go down. It made their world seem separated from everything else.

     After watching and reading A Streetcar Named Desire, I was in awe. I was amazed to learn of this different culture. There were no rules. The streets and homes were filled with vulgar. Sex and rebellion were in the air. In spite of this, though, it had an appeal. It was very relaxed with no worries. The people lived off of the heat and relaxation. It was not a society of who has more money or who looks the best. It is all merely a difference of culture.

Andrea Lea Yates

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