Interpretation of Social Order

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Paper #2——-Applying a theoretical construct: Interpreting a text for Social Order

Social order can be described as a series of systems that maintains an imbalance of power among

social groups so as to benefit the class given privilege, or in some cases it is argued to benefit the

whole society. There are a number of belief systems, traditions, and cultural practices that are part of

the constant process of reinforcing a particular culture’s social order.

For example, a society that is based on the social superiority of GROUP A over GROUP B may keep

this social order in place by developing religious, biological, social, intellectual, economic, historical

or other various rationale for this power structure. In most cases a combination of these rationale are

used. In many of these cases, GROUP A will argue that even though their position of superiority over

GROUP B might seem unfair, it is actually “for their own good.”

Having briefly explained the concept of social order, now you must look to see this concept at work in

a text. For this assignment, you will write a paper in which you interpret a text to analyze what

ideas it is conveying about a particular social order. You will need to thoroughly probe how this

text portrays the social order being portrayed within the story. In doing this, here are some questions to


 Is the text endorsing or promoting the existing social order within this story?

 Is the text rejecting this social order and instead suggesting a better alternative?

 Is the text demonstrating the flaws and/or positive attributes of a particular social order?

 Is the text demonstrating the effects of social order on individuals? What are those effects?

 Does the text make a statement as to whether an individual can change the existing social

 Does the text suggest that individuals can and/or should try to remove themselves from the
existing social order? How?

In developing your analysis, it is key to point to specific textual evidence to back up your points. It is

important to recognize that not every text will simply be promoting the current prevailing social order,

but it may be advocating a completely different view. In looking at social order, issues of race, gender,

sexuality, and economic class may be prominent. However, these are not the only categories that may

influence the construction of a particular social order.

The concept that a text is promoting a particular social order does not require that the writer thought of

this as a goal of their text. In fact, the writer may not even have considered this concept, but the way

their characters are portrayed, the dialogue, and the happenings of their plot may ultimately send these


For this assignment, you may use any of the following kinds of texts to analyze: Short story, novel,

play, poem, film, song lyrics, music video, or television show.

This paper must be typed, double spaced, font= times new roman 12 or arial 10, with 1 inch margins.

Include a cover page with the paper title, your name, and the course information.

-This paper will be at least 3 complete pages in length. Do not exceed 6 pages. This page count does

not include the cover page or Works Cited Page.

-This assignment does not require you to use research sources (beyond your primary text). However,

you may do so if you choose, but don’t let the analysis from other sources be the primary analysis

within your paper. In other words, your interpretation should dominate this paper.

-You must use proper MLA format, including in-text citations where necessary & a Works Cited Page.

Even if you analyze a visual text (such as film or TV show), a Works Cited entry will be necessary.

“Heritage”by Countee Cullen

What is Africa to me:

Copper sun or scarlet sea,

Jungle star or jungle track,

Strong bronzed men, or regal black

Women from whose loins I sprang

When the birds of Eden sang?

One three centuries removed

From the scenes his fathers loved,

Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,

What is Africa to me?

So I lie, who all day long

Want no sound except the song

Sung by wild barbaric birds

Goading massive jungle herds,

Juggernauts of flesh that pass

Trampling tall defiant grass

Where young forest lovers lie,

Plighting troth beneath the sky.

So I lie, who always hear,

Though I cram against my ear

Both my thumbs, and keep them there,

Great drums throbbing through the air.

So I lie, whose fount of pride,

Dear distress, and joy allied,

Is my somber flesh and skin,

With the dark blood dammed within

Like great pulsing tides of wine

That, I fear, must burst the fine

Channels of the chafing net

Where they surge and foam and fret.

Africa? A book one thumbs

Listlessly, till slumber comes.

Unremembered are her bats

Circling through the night, her cats

Crouching in the river reeds,

Stalking gentle flesh that feeds

By the river brink; no more

Does the bugle-throated roar

Cry that monarch claws have leapt

From the scabbards where they slept.

Silver snakes that once a year

Doff the lovely coats you wear,

Seek no covert in your fear

Lest a mortal eye should see;

What’s your nakedness to me?

Here no leprous flowers rear

Fierce corollas in the air;

Here no bodies sleek and wet,

Dripping mingled rain and sweat,

Tread the savage measures of

Jungle boys and girls in love.

What is last year’s snow to me,

Last year’s anything? The tree

Budding yearly must forget

How its past arose or set

Bough and blossom, flower, fruit,

Even what shy bird with mute

Wonder at her travail there,

Meekly labored in its hair.

One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?

So I lie, who find no peace

Night or day, no slight release

From the unremittent beat

Made by cruel padded feet

Walking through my body’s street.

Up and down they go, and back,

Treading out a jungle track.

So I lie, who never quite

Safely sleep from rain at night–

I can never rest at all

When the rain begins to fall;

Like a soul gone mad with pain

I must match its weird refrain;

Ever must I twist and squirm,

Writhing like a baited worm,

While its primal measures drip

Through my body, crying, “Strip!

Doff this new exuberance.

Come and dance the Lover’s Dance!”

In an old remembered way

Rain works on me night and day.

Quaint, outlandish heathen gods

Black men fashion out of rods,

Clay, and brittle bits of stone,

In a likeness like their own,

My conversion came high-priced;

I belong to Jesus Christ,

Preacher of humility;

Heathen gods are naught to me.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

So I make an idle boast;

Jesus of the twice-turned cheek,

Lamb of God, although I speak

With my mouth thus, in my heart

Do I play a double part.

Ever at Thy glowing altar

Must my heart grow sick and falter,

Wishing He I served were black,

Thinking then it would not lack

Precedent of pain to guide it,

Let who would or might deride it;

Surely then this flesh would know

Yours had borne a kindred woe.

Lord, I fashion dark gods, too,

Daring even to give You

Dark despairing features where,

Crowned with dark rebellious hair,

Patience wavers just so much as

Mortal grief compels, while touches

Quick and hot, of anger, rise

To smitten cheek and weary eyes.

Lord, forgive me if my need

Sometimes shapes a human creed.

All day long and all night through,

One thing only must I do:

Quench my pride and cool my blood,

Lest I perish in the flood.

Lest a hidden ember set

Timber that I thought was wet

Burning like the dryest flax,

Melting like the merest wax,

Lest the grave restore its dead.

Not yet has my heart or head

In the least way realized

They and I are civilized.

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