“Arranged”: The Merging of Three Cultures

            Arranged, a film about two women living in America with separate cultural backgrounds, highlights some of the themes of globalization and cultural flows discussed in class. The two protagonists, one a Orthodox Jewish woman and the other a Muslim woman, both struggle to reconcile their own distinct cultural beliefs with those of the modern American world surrounding them. As in the Jewett and Lahiri pieces, the film describes the often conflicting nature of merging cultures, showing the difficulties of maintaining one’s own traditions and practices in a foreign place.

In this instance, this process is demonstrated through the practice of arranged marriage, which each of the women must adhere to in order to fulfill their family’s expectations. This traditional practice is one rooted in each of their family’s cultural histories, one that they continue to uphold even after immigrating to America. Thus, their previous culture is not abandoned upon migration, but rather is transplanted into a new place with conflicting cultural practices. This conflict is evident by the disapproval of certain American characters in the movie, who insist that the women are conforming to an archaic practice by which they could certainly not be made happy.

This negative opinion of outside viewers, however, does not accurately reflect the two women’s own perspectives. As we have discussed in class, global flows may result in a merging of cultures and practices, rather than a single cultural identity contained within arbitrary borders. As is shown in the film, the two women, although from separate backgrounds, learn to connect over their mutual “foreignness,” which they feel as a result of others’ misunderstanding. Though they may feel out of place at times and disagree with both of their family’s strict adherence to tradition, they also respect their backgrounds and feel affinity for their cultural practices. Thus, they learn to uphold their “foreign” beliefs amidst the standard American way of life, demonstrating how three different cultures can merge and co-exist within a single set of borders.

Audrey McFarland

One thought on ““Arranged”: The Merging of Three Cultures”

  1. I have actually seen this movie, and adored it. Something that I think might add to your incorporation of the Lahiri and Jewett merging-cultures idea is how the young Orthodox Jewish woman takes some time to leave her parents’ house (I’m remembering this from some time ago, so I may not have the facts 100% straight) and figure out whether she wants to retain their traditional beliefs or become more like her cousin, living in her own “American” apartment. While at her cousin’s party, the young woman realizes that she has no interest in meeting a boyfriend that way and decides to return her attention to the matchmaking process. I found it interesting that the movie shows her taking this pause to examine which cultural aspects she wants to incorporate into her own life.

    Lindsay

    Like

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