These four short stories are all set in America and show the diversity of Culture in the United States compared to the UK and other countries. I will illustrate the main cultural features shown in these four stories. ‘Jeremy Rodock’, by Jack Shaefer This story is about a pioneer who owns a ranch in the uncharted Wild West of the United States in the mid nineteenth century. He is extremely fond of his horses, which are the main feature in his life. One day, he goes to see his mares and foals in his pasture, but discovers they have been stolen.
He and the author of the story track the horses and locate them in a valley, but ‘they had been roped and thrown and their front hooves rasped almost to the quick, so that they could barely put their weight on them. ‘ Rodock leaves the horses in the valley, planning to return to try and capture the thieves and make them pay. He does this and manages to capture the thieves, but instead of hanging them, which is his usual practice, he makes them walk fifty miles over rocky land without shoes, but then he decided to let them go.
This story features a pioneer, a man who explored and settled in unknown territory in the Wild West of America in the mid nineteenth century. Pioneers are a very important feature of American culture, and are not featured in many other countries’ cultures, except other New World countries like Australia. Pioneers rode on their horse into the unknown, founding settlements. In this story, Jeremy Rodock, the pioneer, has started up a ranch in some unknown territory. Pioneers were very important to American culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth century as they expanded American territory from the East to the far Wild West.
Without them, the western areas of the USA would not be part of the country. Jeremy Rodock was a typical pioneer of his time, a tough strong man. The story is set in the Wild West, which is also very important to American culture. The Wild West is an informal term for the unexplored southwestern states of the USA, where law did not exist. Pioneers, or settlers who followed them inhabited the Wild West. As there was no law; people took the law into their own hands, as shown in ‘Jeremy Rodock’.
He has a reputation (which he deserves) of hanging rustlers who stole his horses, ‘Jeremy Rodock was a hanging man when it came to horse thieves’ (page 1). Modern America appears to be intrigued by the Wild West, as they have made a countless number of films and series set in the Wild West, as have many other countries showing that it is not just the Americans who are fascinated with the Wild West. The main culture demonstrated in ‘Jeremy Rodock’ is the horse culture. The story is set in a horse ranch. There is nothing else at the ranch but horses and ranch hands to look after the horses.
The whole story is about horses, tracking down horse thieves who have stolen and harmed Jeremy Rodock’s horses, and getting revenge for this. The Horse culture was very important to the pioneers, as back then this was their only mode of transport. In the barren land, where this story are set, there are no women, no nearby settlements, nothing but open landscape. This ‘horse culture’ could be described as primitive or restricted. The horse culture is so important as the ranch is isolated, and no settlers have followed Rodock into this area. The language used in the culture shown above is different to modern English.
They have many slang words, and correct American vocabulary. The slang that they use is commonly associated with America; some was absorbed into the American language as correct vocabulary at a later date. Examples: ‘critters’ (pg5), ‘mosey’ (pg5), ‘look see’ (pg5), ‘hobbles’ (pg4) and ‘hitching’ (pg4). These are but few of the many slang examples in this story. They give an insight to the language used in the mid nineteenth century, which is a very important part of the culture. Words in this story that are part of the American language but not the English are: ‘hustling’, (pg6) and ‘rustling’ (pg2).
There are many more examples of correct American words in the story. The difference in language illustrates the difference between the American culture and the English culture at the time. ‘Jeremy Rodock’ sheds light on the life of a pioneer in the mid nineteenth century. ‘My father’ by Damon Runyon This story is about a man whose father used to be a pioneer and who has a pioneer’s reunion in the same town where his wife is to give a speech for her society in dedication to a new museum for Spanish explorers. But his father tries to re-enact his earlier years and starts running riots in the town with his gun and violent ways.
This stops the museum celebration dedication, and Ellen, his wife is annoyed with this so marches into the saloon where the father was causing problems, and drags him out of the saloon, ending his rampages, and allowing the dedication and celebration to continue. This story, like ‘Jeremy Rodock’ features pioneers, this story has the pioneer as an old man as it is set in the early twentieth century, not the mid nineteenth. As already mentioned, the pioneers explored unknown territories in the west. On the first page of this story, there is a good description of what a pioneer is from Webster’s dictionary: ‘Pioneer.