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As we know, there are many continents in our world; some of them are more developed than the others. Even though they have some things in common, for example they all have rich and poor people, and other things, all of them are different from each other in many types of things such as: color, race, culture, way of thinking, way of living and so on, but the thing that we do not know is that even in the same continent there are some differences in the way we live every day, our lifestyle, for example in our continent, America. What I want to say is that the lifestyle in North America is very different from the lifestyle in South America and on this essay I will give some reasons to support this point and to explain the reason of why sometimes people act and live in a different way and the things they do to change their lifestyle. I will also compare two important books that show some characteristics of the different lifestyles of the same continent.
Lifestyle can be expressed in our daily work and also in our leisure behavior patterns so as in activities, attitudes, interests, opinions, values. Besides it can be seen in people’s way of thinking, the way they see themselves and how they think that other people see them. Lifestyle in North America in the ’20s was all about money, women and parties, that is the reason of why this decade is called “The Jazz Age”, for example in the book “The Great Gatsby” by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, money plays an important role in the whole book, all the things people did were related to money, for example the parties people made in their mansions were all just to show other people the power and the influence they had because they were rich; as Nick Carraway in The great Gatsby said:
In that part, people can realize that money played an important role in the society and influenced people’s behavior. By that time in North America, after World War I, life changed because people were concerned about the pursuit of the “American Dream” that was related to find their happiness in order to have a successful life. There were people from other countries that came to North America to change their lifestyle for a better one and they did anything to become more powerful, like in the case of Jay Gastby, a man who changed his old way of living for a wealthier life and status, He did many things to change his situation, for example changing his name for him not to be recognized, and as people did not know the place where he was there were many rumors about his old life:
“Somebody told me that he(Jay Gatsby) killed a man once” (Fitzgerald 1925:21)
“â€¦it’s more that he (Jay Gatsby) was a German spy during the war” (Fitzgerald 1925: 21)
All of these rumors were part envy and part ignorance. Other example of this could be Myrtle Wilson, a woman in her middle-thirties that was really interested in changing her lifestyle for a better one, and she planned to do anything to achieve her goal, even becoming the lover of a rich man to forget the poor life she had with her husband. Her life was all about appearances; like in the part of the book when she got a new dress for a party:
“She had changed her dress to a brown figured muslinâ€¦” (Fitzgerald 1925:12)
“It’s just a crazy old thing she said. I just slip in on sometimes when I don’t care what I look like” (Fitzgerald 1925:15).
North American lifestyle was not only related to money, but also with other changes like the role of the women in the 1920s. Before that time, in the United States there was a lot of prohibition for women; they were not allowed to work, to drink, smoke, etc. From that age, women left their old role of just being a good housewife and taking care of their children at home. Before that age, women did not respect themselves as they should, men took advantages of them because they were week, just like in the case of Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom Buchanan, she tolerated that Tom hit her when he was mad at her, just because Tom was a powerful man who gave her lots of gifts and a wealthy life that she could not have by herself and also because women did not have the courage to stop with those mistreatments, like in the part of the book where she talked to Tom about her hurt finger:
“Look! I hurt itâ€¦ you did it Tomâ€¦I know you didn’t mean to, but you did do it. That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimenâ€¦” (Fitzgerald 1925:6)
Because of these types of men, women started to change their personality and way of living their life, they started to have their own thoughts and to respect themselves, women took on roles that had previously been the preserve of men; they began to work outside and go to school, an example of this “new women” was Jordan Baker, a young woman who was a professional golf player, a thing that in earlier years women would have never imagined before. She was the girl who did not want a man beside her to help her and to make decisions for her as women in earlier years used to think; as Nick Carraway said once in the book:
“â€¦she was a small-breasted girl with an erect carriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet” (Fitzgerald 1925:6)
These words demonstrate that Jordan Baker had a strong and different personality, almost a “manly” one, and also she represents the new way of living and behaving in the new society. Other types of women of the new years were the ones called “the flappers”, women who dressed in a particular way; they wore short skirts, a different “Bob” style of hair, etc. After that, 1920’s fashion for women followed the fashions worn by the flappers. Flapper fashion was a neutral style of dress that made the flapper woman look younger. They also had a liberal lifestyle in which they listened to jazz and started to dance scandalous dance styles such as the Charleston, the Shimmy, and the Black Bottom, besides wearing a lot of makeup, driving cars and drinking and smoking excessively. In that way new women enjoyed their life in the Northern part of America.
In contrast of the life in North America, full of money and excesses, life in South America was about solving some problems that several countries had with the people, for example in Peru, where the discrimination was a very important issue that was affecting the Inca civilization, since the wealthy people did not respect their rights, taking them away from their lands and even using these people almost like slaves, just because they were poor and they did not have education, because they had never gone to a school and some of them did even not know to read or write. The Indian way of living was based on cultural things like religious ceremonies and their “parties” were very different from the ones in North America, these ones were not about showing their richness, they celebrated in contact with the Earth, appreciating the things that they got from there. Indian people did not wanted a huge change in their lifestyle, they did not want to change the way their civilization worked and the way and conditions that they live, they just wanted to be educated for people to respect their rights; Ernesto Guevara said:
“The mestizo curator was very knowledgeable with a breathtaking enthusiasm for the race whose blood flowed in his veins. He spoke to us of the splendid past and the present misery, of the urgent need to educate the Indians, as a first step toward total rehabilitationâ€¦” (Guevara 2004:117).
Moreover, in the book “The motorcycle diaries”, Ernesto Guevara De la Serna with his friend Alberto Granados travelled along South America and they realized the problems that this part of the continent has and that they did not know before, since they came from a wealthy family. In their trip they could see the huge difference in people’s lifestyle depending on the country, but all the countries had a thing in common, the poverty that surrounded them. Besides the former example of Peru, there are other countries such as Chile that in those years had many problems related to money, that affected families, because some people travelled for the whole country searching for a job and they had to leave their children alone to go to find some money for feeding them; in the book someone refers to this situation:
“â€¦with his handful of men, travelling 50 or 60 kilometers a day without discovering a drop of water or even some shrub to shelter from the hottest hours, leaves a strong impression .” (Guevara 2004:85).
“Veritable waves of Chileans are driven by all this into emigrating to Argentina, in search of the legendary city of gold which cunning political propaganda has offered those who live to the west of the Andes.” (Guevara 2004:87)
Although Chilean people were poor, they had some instances to enjoy themselves, they gave some parties for the citizens were they ate typical food, drank a lot of wine and danced the whole night; like in this part of the book where Ernesto Guevara said:
“Chilean wine is great and I was drinking it unbelievably quickly, so much so that by the time we went on to the village dance I felt ready to take on the world. The evening progressed pleasantly as we kept filling our bellies and our heads with wine” (Guevara 2004:61).
The motorcycle diaries is set in the 1950s, here, the role of the women was very different from the role of the women of the 1920s in North America, because in the ’50s women were repressive and constrictive, since they had to be a good wife and be there for their husband, to do the households and also to take care of their children if they had children, like in the website www.associatedcontent.com where it refers to the role of the woman:
“A diligent housewife had dinner on the table precisely at the moment her husband arrived from work. A wife was a “good” wife only if she carried out her man’s every order and agreed with him on everything.” The people’s media company (2010) Associated content information (on line). Available from: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/13216/a_womans_role_in_the_1950s.html?cat=41 . Accessed 18 July 2010.
This shows that the woman in this decade was only there for her husband and she did not had the right to have an opinion or a life apart from the life in the house, very different from the “Flappers” of the 20s, where men were not a part of their lives, they just used men just to have a great time and that was all.
As we could see in those previous paragraphs, lifestyles in the American continent were very different from each other, because of reasons like the money that people had, the culture, the way they developed in the society, and the most important of all, the way they tried to change their old lifestyle in order to be happy with a new one, and I think that in our current society still happens the same thing because we never are happy with what we have. Although fighting to change your life sometimes is a positive fact, since there are people who fight against poverty in order to have a better life for them and for their future generations.
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