In the modern-day society, we see a lot of cultural clashes. Worst case
scenarios of these cultural clashes result in wars. But in other cases, it just
results in people not being able to get along.
The short story “number three” written by Anne Metcalfe in 2014,
handles the theme of this great cultural clash, of different nationalities
being so different from each other, they can’t function together.
The short story tells the story about miss Coral, she works at a
school in China named “Number three”. She used to be a teacher at the school,
but the staff received complaints, from the students’ parents. Therefore, they had
to hire a new international teacher. her new job is to administer and welcome
the new international teachers. She welcomes a teacher called Mr. James from England.
Throughout the short story miss Coral and Mr. James cultural differences
show, and miss coral end up losing her job because of Mr. James. Even though
Miss coral keeping her cool and professional approach to Mr. James, who’s rude
and disrespectful to miss coral.
The main theme of
the story is the clash between different cultures, in this case it’s a Chinese culture
and the British culture. Where Mr. James represents the British culture, and
Miss. coral represents the Chinese one. The big difference between miss. Coral and
Mr. James already shows from their first meeting, in the cab from the airport.
Where Mr. James is sleeping, and Miss. Corals welcome speeches is wasted on the
driver instead of Mr. James. “In the taxi on the way back to school, he sleeps.
She watches him, wasting her welcome speech on the driver. It is an honour to
welcome you to China, Mr James”.
Already when they
arrive to the apartment, the big difference between the cultures show again.
Miss. coral is expecting Mr. James reactions to the apartment to be really positive,
because we are told that it’s only the senior teachers who get their own
apartment, which Mr. James isn’t. “When she
opens the door to his large, unshared space, she expects him to be pleased.”
reaction is asking when the apartment will be cleaned, which is really rude.
clear that their relationship between the two charters, is really weird and kind
of awkward, because of their different values and personalities. For instance,
we see the way they both express their opinions, Miss coral considers everything
she says and worry about how Mr. James will react to what she’s saying, and whether
its respectable. Mr. James doesn’t care about any of this he seems to say
exactly what he thinks and doesn’t care how miss coral will react to it. “On
the way to his flat, she wonders whether or not to tell him that he’s already
being paid more than almost all of the other teachers at the school”. “Towards
the middle of the month, Mr James demands a Christmas holiday”.
to the clash between the two cultures, the clash is represented through Mr.
James and Miss corals relationship between each other. The Chinese culture is represented
as being respectful and tolerant, through Miss coral. And the western culture
being ruder, and in general having the western narrow mindset, is represented through
Mr. James. “Mr James claimed that he felt underrepresented at the school, being
unable himself, to communicate with the authorities in Mandarin”.
In spite of
the fact of Mr. James rudeness, miss coral keeps her calm through the different
events. Already in the start of the short story we get the impression of her enduring
more than she deserves. For instance, her boss criticizes her openly in front
of the rest of the colleagues. “It was
to be understood that, if it wasn’t for his greatness of heart and generosity
of spirit, she might not have a job at all.”
Miss coral keeps her cool and doesn’t do anything about it because she
wants to keep her job. Miss coral doesn’t let her opinion about other people cross
her work. Mr. James is really rude to her both in the emails and in person,
however in spite of this she still throws him a farewell party.
Miss coral describes how she feels in the big city, as she is not originally
from the city, her description gives us an overall expression of a big busy
city. “The city is different again. (…) Though she has been here five years,
there are moments when life in the city comes as a shock”. Here we
get the impression of her not being used to the city, as she says, “comes as a
shock” she’s not used to these big changes happening in her surroundings as she’s
from the countryside.
As she’s about to leave the city after her getting fired, she describes
the city again. “Miss Coral has time to note that the Tianfu slums have now
been flattened completely”. We hear how the city have already expanded, and get
the impression of the huge industrialized evolution happening in China.
So, has the modern-day society really come to this, can’t we treat each
other with respect despite having different cultures. Well in this story it doesn’t
look like it’s possible, some cultures need to learn to stand up for themselves,
and other cultures need some lessons in treating other people with respect.
Every culture has their own problems, but can’t we learn to respect those