Often in narratives, the authors chosen setting has a subtle but important impact on the story. This is notable in Ernest Buckler’s “Long, Long After School” and Santha Rama Rau’s “By Any Other Name. ” Whereas Buckler’s story focuses on the segregation of the main character, Rama Rau’s concentrates on the attempted assimilation she faced as a child. However, both literary works demonstrate that setting is key to shaping the characters. A way that the time period of the story affects the protagonists of both stories is that it influenced how others interacted with them.
Buckler’s story is set in a point in recent history when the desegregation of schools had just occurred butt discrimination was still present. Wes recalls how in his childhood he was teased about the colour of his skin, one boy even taunting, “Look at Wes. He’s so scared he’s turning pale. ” As Wes’ skin tone was dark, the other children often made fun of the fact that he did not change much in colouration when embarrassed or scared. Similarly, Santha is also discriminated against in her school because her story is set during the time when India was a part of the British Empire and the British wanted to assimilate Indians.
The racism she faces is so severe that “At the AngloIndian school in Zorinabad to which [Santha’s] sister and [her] were sent … they changed [their] names. ” Santha is an Indian child in a time when they are being forced to conform to British values and customs; a time where even their names, their own identities, were changed to fit a “better” version of themselves. The times that both stories are set are when racism is clearly present and is used when others interact with Wes and Santha. Furthermore, the geographical area that the characters inhabit lead to social seclusion.
Wes is living in a North American town where in his youth the inclusion of different races in schools had just become accepted. This however, did not mean that everyone agreed with the desegregation of schools, children even going so far as to refuse Wes when he reached out to close up a circle for a schoolyard game, saying “[Wes’] hands are dirty. ” Even though the schools were supposed to be inclusive, the children still saw Wes as lesser than them, going so far as to judge Wes’ hygiene purely on the colour of his skin.
Rama Rau’s story also deals with the failure of the majority to assimilate different cultures. Even though Santha’s sister tries her best to conform to the ways of the Anglo-Indian school, the teacher discriminates against her by making the Indian children to be separate from the others because “Indians cheat. ” The schools are supposed to teach all the children who attend a British education, however, the administration makes it incredibly difficult for not only the Indian children to learn, but to also keep their self-identities.
Both schools try to include different cultures into their community, yet their attempts only further separated the students. Wes and Santha both are minorities in an environment where the majorities oppresses them. The narrator of “Long, Long After School sees nothing wrong with asking Wes about his personal life. The speaker even observed that “Wes’s [sic] privacy seemed to be everyone’s property. ” Everyone felt entitled to Wes’ story because they thought he was inferior to them and felt anything he had they could ask for.
Likewise, the headmistress in “By Any Other Name” feels as though she has the authority to do anything she wants to Santha and her sister. She even feels as though she can change their names just because they “are too hard for [her],” instead giving them “pretty English names. ” Any inconvenience the headmistress finds in Indian children’s names she changes to make easier for her. Those around both Wes and Santha are a majority that think they are superior to them. The future of the characters in the stories are affected by their settings. Wes allowed himself to become complacent towards the others wishes.
The narrator even notes, “I guess he[ had] come to figure that whenever we asked him a personal question he might as well satisfy our curiosity completely. ” Wes has become so used to everyone violating his privacy that he does not even resist sating their curiosity anymore. However, unlike him, Santha does not let the events affect her. The English name they gave her let her dissociate herself from her school life. She is able to move past it “because it had all happened to a girl called Cynthia, and [Santha] was never particularly interested in her.
She feels no connection to her alter ego, who was the one who went through everything at the school, not Santha. The settings of the stories shaped how the characters saw themselves, one accepting of what he is given and the other denies that it even happen to her. Both settings in “Long, Long After School” and “By Any Other Name” are used to show how where one lives affects the characters’ lives. While Wes lives in the past, Santha denies that it defines her. The effect of the settings bring into to mind the age old argument, nature versus nurture.