Example Of Book Review On Descendants Of Cain

Published: 2021-06-21 23:41:20
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Category: Literature, Life, Life, Social Issues, Culture

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The story written by Hwang is very interesting and moving. It is told in a non-structural and non-linear way, which is something that most people are not used to reading. Besides this structural characteristic of the novel, it tells a story of the history of Korea, before Communism spread in North Korea. I do not agree with the thesis statement which claims that the characters Pak Hun and Ojaknyo reject the old and feel that the new is unjust. However, I do believe that they think that there is much improvement to be done in modern times. The characters in the novel “Descendents of Cain” do not play stereotypical gender roles. In this, I find resilience and self-efficacy a resounding theme throughout the novel as they go on with their personal struggles. However, another theme that is seen is functionalism. This means that they do not necessarily reject the old, they found it to be something that works. Since during the time before the war, they lived okay lives. They were at peace with their tenants. In fact, they needed their tenants in order to survive.
As discussed above, resilience is something seen in the characters of the novel written by Hwang. This is when a person will remain resilient even when the situation is bad. Instead of letting things effect them negatively, they themselves are able to mold or shape their response in order to adapt or cope with the situation. This can be seen in many adolescents as they cope with the stresses that life brings them. Many studies focus on the type of resilience in people as well as the level each person has. This is a dynamic process which shows change in a person during the face of adversity. Although the change might not necessarily be positive at the start, it usually ends with a positive outcome or will show how the individual uses the adversity in order to make the situation better (Bandura a). When looking at the personal resilience of an individual, there are some factors that have to be considered. The level of stress, persistence and ability to select positive outlets for coping are all taken into consideration when measuring resilience. Self efficacy, as Bandura (1994) believes, plays a role in promoting resilience. This is done in how self-efficacy can help individuals find motivation and use cognitive resources in order to deal with the situation that they are facing. Those who are seen to be self-efficacious are people who reject negative thoughts about themselves and therefore can produce cognitive or physical abilities that help them reach their goal or enter resilience.
The way that landlords manipulated class divisions was seen in the book. We see that the peasants reformed against land owners, and this is how the trouble started. It can be said that, in the book, before the war started, there was a functionalist perspective. However, when the classes fell, there was some sort of disruption. This can be related to the work by author Herbert Gans. Herbert Gans wrote in his piece No, Poverty Has Not Disappeared numerous reasons why poverty should be seen as a positive thing within society. This type of view is not necessarily beneficial for everyone, nor can it be seen as something the poor will appreciate, but for the benefit of society as a whole, Gans had made a conclusion that poverty indeed is needed in society for things to function. If poverty were to be diminished, many things would take on negative turns, and this would greatly affect the balance of society today. Poverty is needed by the people who are in the middle class or of a higher status.
A function I found most logical in Gans’ essay was how the existence of poverty is needed by society in order for the unwanted jobs to be taken care of. These jobs are the ones considered as “dirty” work; they can be something dangerous, underpaid or even temporary. The poor in society ensures that these jobs will always be filled because of their lack of choices in a career path. The poor function in society as the pool of people who are unable to be “unwilling” to take these jobs at low wages. This is important to society as a whole because in ensures the balance of jobs, and if these jobs are not taken care of there will be a number of things left undone. There are many places which require such jobs which pay low wages, Gans suggests that these can be found in hospitals, restaurants, factories, even in rural environments. The function of the poor is the assurance that these jobs will always be filled.
Another function of the poor is that they purchase goods which other people do not want. This ensures that society minimizes wasted resources and makes use of everything which is produced to its maximum extent. These are things like second hand clothing, day-old bread and other things which people of higher social statuses would not bother with or would simply throw away. This keeps the economic value of items much longer, and ensures that there are no “wastes” in society. The food, items and services are still paid for; however they may not be of the same quality. Additionally, the poor provide income for professionals who are either too old or poorly trained. Because the poor cannot afford doctors, teachers or lawyers which are top quality, they will offer jobs to those who are in the bottom of the chain, and this keeps the economic flow of cash going. Society needs the poor also for their purchasing power, no matter how limited it may be compared to those of higher social status.
The poor are also to serve a cultural function. According to Gans, the poor’s folk culture from the past has come to be appreciated in today’s modern age. There were many examples given, and the ones I find interesting are examples pertaining to music. The poor people of the South decades ago had a culture of singing blues and their spiritual country music. Nowadays, this is enjoyed by people from all social statuses. Even rock - which used to be targeted for those poor class, and performed by people who were not entirely of a high class – is now being enjoyed mostly by the middle class. Also, people who are in the music industry for rock are now also very rich. The poor culture of the past provides the rich a culture which they can enjoy.
In Gans’ statement about the persistence and existence of poverty means that poverty is needed by society in order for things to function well; that the alternatives for poverty in society would result in a dysfunction for the rest of society. Gans is pointing out that the members of the middle and the high class needs the poor, more than the poor need them. If there were no poor in society, the middle class would become of lower status, and this is not something which they would be happy about. The existence of the poor in society ensures that all is well for the middle class and the upper class to function well and be comfortable in their standards of living.
Before the war, it was seen that the landlords needed the peasants to stay loyal to them. This was seen as a collision of self-interest. This is where the problem sparked, so instead of actually being against nostalgia, I believe that the novel was pro-nostalgic for both the characters in the book.
Works Cited
Bandura, Albert. (a) Self‐efficacy. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994.
Bandura, Albert. (b) "Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and
Gans, Herbert J. "No, Poverty Has Not Disappeared." Reprinted in Sociological Footprints, edited by
Leonard Cargan and Jeanne Ballantine. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth (2007).
Hwang, Sun-wŏn. The descendants of Cain. ME Sharpe, 1997.

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