Professor Donald Demers
Date of submission: 02/28/2017
An Analysis of White Teeth
The name of this novel is “White Teeth”. The author name is Zadie Smith. Zadie Smith is a multiracial, her novel has been repeatedly debated in the literary world. Zadie was 25 years old when she lived at Bangladeshi. The book starts on New Year’s Day, 1975, with Jones trying to kill himself after his wife walks out on him. He’s interrupted and finds a new enthusiasm for life. This book talks about immigrant families and people of multiculturalism. People try and keep their values and their culture alive through their children, but the only the reason the parents know it from their surrounds and their own families before them. But when you immigrate to a new land and try and raise your children there, we have taken them out of those surrounds and the new place becomes what they adapt and learn from. Therefore, a lot of the second generations of immigrants often speak both languages and then the third speaks only English and possibly little to none of their original language.
In the winter of 2013, my family and I migrated to Massachusetts in the search of better opportunities that our country could not provide for us, but this country didn’t just provide me with a multitude of opportunities, but it also gave me many new insights on morality. My parents have always told me to stay true to my morals because they are what defines me as a person and my character.
For me and maybe for many others my morals defined my values, beliefs, lifestyle and others but I did not realize that they could be majorly impacted by a change of scenery.
Moral development can be seen through everyone, if one is looking at their progression over a certain period. It takes a lot of experiences for the development of someone’s morals. Reflecting to my even younger years, I was presented with situations such as “do I lie to my mother about eating my vegetables or do I tell her the truth and say I simply threw it away because I did not like the taste”. Even though that seemed to be a great deal for me back then but now I’m presented with much more moral issues such as if it is right for me to accept Darwin’s theory of evolution because in some ways it contradicts my religious belief. Through the years I’ve been taught and asserted by attributes of my surroundings and by many people to be able to grasps these moral challenges and to set my moral compass based on these experiences but what it’s the purpose of all this?
As I have discussed my upbringing from a different culture and then living in another, we have understood that society has a lot to do with our morals but now, shouldn’t we wonder why societies’ involvement in our morals so important? George Boeree, a retired professor, previously in the Psychology Department at Shippensburg University discussed two theories on the stages of moral development in his article also called “Moral development”. One of the theories belonging to Lawrence Kohlberg, a psychologist best known for his theory of stages of moral development and the other to Urie Bronfenbrenner. After tracing both the stages of development and the levels of morality that one can achieve, both studies came to the same conclusions. “On the other hand, sometimes people slide back down to the lowest orientation when they suffer from the disintegration of social structures, as in war and other social disasters. This can force a person’s attention back onto their own needs and cause them to begin ignoring the welfare of larger social groupings” (George Boeree, Moral Development). This goes to show that primarily the purpose of a society’s involvement with our morality is only to make sure it secures the well-being its residents until people decide to do otherwise for their own gain.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any us. A society relies on rules and guidelines to ensure its stability and the survival of the people. What is interesting about this is to see that morality is not being taught to us for our own selfish need but for the well-being of others. The behaviors and actions of a person can affect their whole community and even the world thus it is very crucial that the idea of good and bad or right and wrong is taught in the best interest of community’s needs. Monkeyshines on Health & Sciences, an academic online magazine published an article on morality and ethics that discussed more on moral behaviors. The article gave an example of a scenario where someone was gifted a cigarette. “Your moral code affects not only you, but your family, friends and society as well. If you had decided to smoke, your parents and some other friends would likely be upset. Society would be affected also because you would be exposing them to the dangers of second hand smoke” (Monkeyshines on Health & Science, Moral and Ethics). This is the same reason why the whole Haitian community at my high school (Cambridge Rindge And Latin) was affected when two Haitian girls decided to fight and harm one another over a trivial matter and one of them brought a kitchen knife planning to fight the other girl beforehand. After the fight, the image of Haitian students at the school was majorly damaged and many would say “try not to anger that Haitian guy, he could be caring a knife”. If either of the girls were following the moral rule that we were taught in school that basically states it is wrong to purposefully harm someone, our community as Haitian high school students would not have been affected in such a way. As it seems that our moral choices really impact the well-being of our communities, it is also important to know the attributes of our environment that help us make the more beneficial moral choices.
Out of the many attributes of culture that can have an effect and guide our moral choices, religion stands out the most as it has been the key to moral judgments and decisions for many centuries. For centuries nations have been guided by rules set in ancient books such as the bible and the Koran and whether one decides to follow these religious guidelines, no one can deny being affected by them, especially in moral choices. A prime example is the famous Ten Commandments from the Bible. Dr. Art Lindsley, Vice President of Theological Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Works & Economics discussed in the commandments and the way they relate to our laws in the article “Moral Law and the Ten Commandments”. “Throughout history, the Ten Commandments have been used as a framework for expounding all of our ethical responsibilities” (Art Lindsley, Moral Law and the Ten commandments).The fact that societies all over the world have been using religious laws and beliefs to shape their laws is true, even though people generally don’t get punished by others or a religious leader for breaking a religious rule but the simple look that one receive when accidently cursing with God’s name seems to be punishing enough because of how these rules have shaped us on such deep levels.
The effects that our cultural attributes have on the development of our morals is on an even bigger scale now because it is global. Nowadays we are less limited in the ways we can connect to one another because of the social media, the internet and various other media channels. This way other societies’ moralities and actions can influence anyone wherever they are. This be good because it can helps improve our moral choices but also bad because other cultures’ choices and ways of life might contradict our morals and make us oppose and jump to conclusions without rationalizing first. In the end, being the most social specie on the planet, we rely on those we identify ourselves with and our moral instinct for our survival and well-being, which is why our societies find it in their best interest to teach us and shape our morals based on the factors that could help or harm them.
Boeree, Dr. C. George. “Moral Development.” Moral Development. 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 28
Lindsley, Dr.Art. “Moral Law and the Ten Commandments.” Institute for Faith
Work Economics. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
“Morality and Ethics.” Great Neck Publishing. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.