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Shangtung Compound: My Final Thoughts Part 2

Updated on September 21, 2012

In the book, “Shantung Compound”, Langdon Gilkey speaks about his time spent in an internment camp in China. He speaks about how Americans, British, Russians, and people of other ethnicities were forced to live in a camp because of the war between the Americans and Japanese over Pearl Harbor. In this book, the author explains how the people began to co-exist with one another and how life in the internment camp became better, as the years passed by.

As I read the book, I realized the different situations that each person had to go through. Some of the people there didn’t have family or weren’t able to live with their family members. For example, I read in the book how British and American parents didn’t want their teenagers living in dorms with same-sex teenagers. The parents didn’t want this because the parents didn’t want to feel as if they were losing their kids and they didn’t want the behaviors of other teenagers to affect their kids. The parents felt that they had more control and less worrying, if their teenagers stayed close to them. The parents felt this way because they were in a new environment, where they didn’t know anybody except their children, forced to live with people they have never seen before. The best way to describe this type of reaction is to use the term the conflict perspective. The conflict perspective fits best because its definition is the conflict or tension between two groups, not personally based but based on each other’s viewpoints. The British and American parents didn’t want their teenagers to move out, while other people were over cramped in their rooms, urgently needing another room to move into. The conflict perspective could also be seen as people of higher ranking and lower ranking only looking out for themselves and their own self interests.

Also in the book, I noticed how there were two Russian women that did not do any work. These women did not do any work because they were married to men with an achieved status in society. An achieved status is when an individual works their way from the bottom of the chain to the top making a lot of money or obtaining a powerful position in society. These women felt that if they did work that they formerly used to do that somehow they would end up doing the work again such as laundry, cooking, and cleaning. These women were too proud and afraid of losing their social status that they worked so hard to achieve in society.

On the other hand, the wives of high-ranking British officials did not mind doing chores because they always knew that they were a “lady”, no matter what grim chore, they were assigned. These wives were too proud and secure to try and refuse helping with chores that everyone at the compound had to do. The term that best describes this situation is culture relativism. The term culture relativism means thinking about behavior from the perspective of your own culture. The wives of the British officials thought their behavior should be proper and kind at all times, despite the situation, because their behavior reflects their status in society. As the wives acted like ladies and did what they had to do, the people there in the camp knew them to be ladies.

In the internment camp, the Russians, Americans, and British were only concerned about working hard, eating, and sleeping. The camp did not have physical things that were created by members of society. The camp would be described best as a nonmaterial culture. This definition would fit because nonmaterial means using customs, beliefs, communication, and systems of government in a society. Throughout the book, the people in the society communicated by forming church on Sundays, small systems of government, and whenever a task needed to be done by someone new. The people in the camp had customs such as practicing either Christianity or Catholicism. The small systems of government included representatives of Housing, Food, the people, etc.

Another situation in the book is when the people who were eating the food and receiving medicine needed more. The people such as Americans and Italians brought it to the attention of the representative in charge that they were hungry and sick. The representative solved this problem by receiving food from the black market or outside sources. Also, the representative solved the medicine problem by tricking the Japanese into signing the form that permitted the medicine to be let into the compound. The term to best describe the situation could be to use culture industry. This term means to standardize the goods and services demanded by consumers. The consumers demanded more food and medicine; the suppliers gave the consumers what they wanted.

The term the coalition group would describe everyone in the compound. Hypothetically, these people worked together in order to reach the ultimate goal of surviving in the internment camp. These people took turns cleaning, cooking, constructing, preaching, rearranging, and helping each other out. The people in the internment camp had to cooperate with one another in order to help each other to survive.

Another term that could be used to describe this book is correlation. Correlation is when a change in variable matches a change in another. An example of this in the book is when the Japanese told the people that they had to move their teenagers into the dorms, everyone else who had teenagers had to also move theirs into the dorms. The dorms consisted of males in one room and females in another room. In this situation, the Japanese would be the explanatory variable that helped to achieve the goal of moving the kids into another room.

The last term I will use to describe this book is random sample. Random sample is when everyone in society has the same chance of being selected. An example of this is when everyone had the same chance as anyone else to be selected to the many different jobs in the society. One person was not assigned one job to have the entire stay at the internment camp. The people switched jobs and were randomly assigned a new job so, that everyone had a chance to do that job.


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