The burden of the middle class

This is interesting for the way it contrasts “reasonable options and practical considerations” with “ancient grudges and elaborate, inflexible notions of obligation, honor and shame.”

This is the same dichotomy Americans can observe between the middle classes and the lower classes . . . perhaps even between some middle class people and some upper class people, again with the middle class coming out better. It’s also observable as a distinction between generic “Western” societies and the societies in many “developing” or “Third World” countries, as well as being a distinction between reformed religions (such as mainstream Protestantism and, arguably, modern Roman Catholicism) and fundamentalist religions (meaning those which attach religious significance to rigid social definitions).

Personally, I think about this every time I catch something in the news about some people killing each over stupid political squabbles. Usually, the US news highlights such things happening in other countries where Americans are supposedly responsible for “civilizing” the natives.

clipped from movies.nytimes.com

The soldier, who patiently and kindly demolishes Ree’s dream of running away, belongs to a world governed by reasonable options and practical considerations. Ree lives somewhere else, in a universe ruled by ancient grudges and elaborate, inflexible notions of obligation, honor and shame. “Winter’s Bone” is about her discovery of how cruel her native habitat can be and also about her initiation into its ways — a coming-of-age story that is not entirely about breaking free.

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