According to Fuller, poverty does not mean just lacking money, butit is a matter of choice and support. The two are key contributors tothe pattern of the life of an individual. Self-awareness is of greatsignificance in helping one to recognize opportunities found in theirenvironment. The factors in one’s life such as culture, educationand identity directly influence the choices they make in theirlives. In the Legend of Colton, Fuller tells a story ofColton, the major character, whose life revolves around Wyoming. Theauthor describes Wyoming as wild and open. Colton’s mind is filledwith the nature of the place, and he can only think of fishing andhunting even when he is at school. The author reveals that Coltoncould not concentrate on his studies even though he tried so hard.All he could wonder about were the animals that he could be able tocatch during his hunting escapades. He considered himself as anacademic dwarf, so that he even once announced that, “At myfuneral, you will all feel sorry for making me waste so much time inschool” (Fuller 25). The author uses the story to portray theeffect of culture on the choices that people make in life. Coltonadored the K-Mart Cowboys who roamed Wyoming, and he wished to becomebig like them and save himself from being harassed. The culture andway of life in the region could not influence him to seek another wayof living. Colton and his brother grew up wishing they could have thefreedom to sleep out and hunt just like the cowboys.
Culture can be an obstacle for one to achieve self-made goals. Forexample, Barrett’s story presents a lady who is under the influenceof cultural contexts that influences the decision she makes. SarahAnn is passionate about getting facts right and looking for evidencefor publicized stories. When stories ran that swallows hibernate inwater during winter, she is eager to make her point that it is almostimpossible but her hypothetical theory is dismissed by the men aroundher. She says, “and how is that possible the birds are under waterfor so long” (Barrett 63). Although she confirms her idea secretly,culture acts as a limiting factor to her exploration and her femaleposition restricts her from performing experiments autonomously.Joseph McGeshick, in his article, wonders what would happen ifgeography would lose its influence on the character of people. In thepoem, he reveals that, character and satisfaction in life isdetermined by the achievements obtained from the little things peopledo successfully, like poaching of wolves. According to him, manypeople are held down by their locations and circumstances, whateveradventure in life they may wish for, they may sometimes not be ableto achieve them because of the culture that defines them (McGeshick31). This is similar to the story by Fuller. Colton and his brotherhave a great desire to be hunters and spend their nights out, butthey are held down by their society and forced to go to school, eventhough Colton is not good in class
Lack of self-awareness can result in one lacking a specificdirection in life. For example, Colton does not seem to have a senseof awareness because he inclines hi life to the direction taken byothers. He even ends up working on the oil rig like his fatherbecause he does not pursue another dream. He even confesses that heknows he will die young. Lack of self-awareness limits thediversification of life that one pursues. Without it, one takes theavailable options, and they are not always the best. Mistreatment andpoor ways of lives may also influence people’s choices in life.Wilkerson reveals that numerous black southerners migrated to otherparts of America, seeking an opportunity to experience a differentlife, gain civil rights and get better occupations. Farmers andgardeners migrated to parts of America they had only heard of butnever been to. The Great Migration, as it was called, was crucial tothe achievement of civil rights in the 1960s (Wilkerson 9). Theirchoice helped most of them to obtain better status and helped them togain a better financial position. They also were able to receivespecial treatment as citizens, something they did not have where theywere staying. It would be plausible to say that their mistreatment ascitizens in the places where they were, and the little occupationsthat were not well paying also influenced them to make the choice tomigrate.
There is a notable difference between an individual with an attributeof self-awareness and those devoid of the characteristic. UnlikeColton, Sarah Ann is aware of herself and the capacities she harbors.She devises ways to counter the cultural limitation in herenvironment, and she pursues her interests. Self-awareness seems toplay an important role as the driving force towards defying the odds.Secretly, she hires a farm boy to bring her swallows so that she andher friend could prove whatever the birds could survive in water. Atlast she discovers that the birds had no capacity to breathe underwater, and she confirms her hypothesis. She contrasts with Colton,who takes the available ideas and follows them comfortable withouthaving a unique interest. Colton cannot be said to be leading thebest form of life. As the author states about the condition ofColton’s place of work, “…because the humans involved in theprocess of oil drilling aren’t always robotic extensions of theirdrill bits” (Fuller 32). His state of life is out of the choices hemakes to shun education and fulfill his cowboy life. When Saran Annbreaks away to seek her freedom to a place unknown to Christopher, ita choice she makes to move away from unending control. Indiscussing those whose lives were affected by the Great Migration,Wilkerson says, “So…came the people who might not have existed orbecome who they did” (10). By stating this, Wilkerson asserts thatpersonalities were also developed by the choice to migrate, which wasmotivated by a desire for a better life. She goes further to disclosethat some of the famous people like James Baldwin and Michelle Obamagot their fame and influence from the migration. If the migrationcould have never occurred, these people could never have become whothey became. Such people were initially hindered by the locationsthey were in, but when they migrated to more favorable locations,they achieved excellence. This clearly reveals that lifecircumstances and their influences on choice are important in thedevelopment of a person’s self. Education also plays an importantrole in the decisions that people make and the direction taken bytheir future. Colton was not among the best students, and he did notpursue higher education. Even in his early years in schools hedetested the lessons, and his mind was in the field where he couldhunt. Finally, he does not have much to choose from, and he ended upworking on the oil rig. Sarah Ann, is educated, and she firstexpresses this when he argues with Christopher and Collison about theability of the swallow to stay under water without the adaptiverespiratory system. Despite the cultural influence that tends to holdher down, knowledge gives her authority tongue. She says,“Respiration and circulation must somehow continue, to some degree”(Barrett 63). It is also her knowledge that instigates her todisprove the hypothesis that swallows can survive under water. Afterdissection the birds she did not find specialized features modifiedfor breathing under water. According to her findings, “Afour-chambered heart…there is no sign of a gill-like organ thatmight allow the bird to breath under water” (Barrett 77).
In conclusion, cultural beliefs are a major hindrance to people’sdevelopment and moving out of their cocoons. Education andself-awareness are primary in helping individuals defy the culturallimits and seek self-fulfillment. Colton and Sarah’s ordeals areevidence that the factors in the environment shape people’s livesand how individual efforts can assist in forging a direction in life.Education provides opportunities, and it is a source of authority.Self-awareness can help to break free from influential culturalpractices as individuals seek a unique direction for their lives. Intheir works, Fuller describes a boy who chooses hunting overeducation, McGeshick reveals that satisfaction can be obtained fromthe choice of a simple lifestyle, and Wilkerson reveals that the poorlifestyle and mistreatment, and consequently, the desire for a betterlifestyle plays a vital role in the development of a person’s life.These writings confirm that the choices people make in their lives isdirectly influenced by the circumstances in their lives.
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Barrett, Andrea. Ship fever: stories. New York: WW Norton &Company, 1996. Print.
Fuller, Alexandra. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant.Westminster: Penguin, 2008. Print.
Joseph R. McGeshick, The Indian in the Liquor Cabinet, (Baltimore,Maryland: Publishamerica, LLLP, 2006) 31.
Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story ofAmerica`s Great Migration. New York, NY: Random House, 2010.Print.