Having two cultures co-existing within one person or one society implies biculturalism. It means that the people in question have been exposed to two different cultures but manage to practice both without assimilating or even killing one culture in favor of another. It is a very difficult occurrence in that cultures are often known to die when exposed to co-existence, especially where one of the cultures is considered better than the other. The US is one of the countries in the world, where biculturalism is prominent considering high numbers of first-generation immigrants from various parts of the world. These immigrants went on to have children creating the second generation and eventually the third generation of immigrants who are indeed American citizens, except that they have some attributes of their native cultures.
The concept of biculturalism has numerous advantages and disadvantages depending on the prevailing circumstances. It affects individuality, self-expression, sense of belonging, public separateness, confidence and cultural identity among other things. When it comes to being exposed to different cultures and having to encounter them both at the same time even in different contexts, most people feel cornered having to choose between the two and in some cases feeling like they have disappointed or betrayed their family members and relatives, especially when they become more fluent in the foreign culture. It means that the first consequence of biculturalism is guilt.
This paper explores the concept of biculturalism in context of Richard Rodriguez and Zora Neal Hurston in order to determine how these authors were affected by exposure to two different cultures as well as advantages and disadvantages of being bicultural. The paper will draw from the authors’ works on their personal experiences.
Zora Neal Hurston
Zora Neal Hurston is a young colored woman born in Orange Coun