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Red Sky At Morning Essay, Research Paper

The author, Richard Bradford, uses first person narrative in his novel Red Sky at Morning. His story unfolds through the eyes of Josh Arnold, the strong-willed, independent son of Frank Arnold, a respected and wealthy man in Sagrado, New Mexico during the times of World War II. When Josh was two he began to become immune to things like Indian fire and ringworm which was the primary cause for their summerhouse in Sagrado. The Arnolds moved from Mobile, Alamabama during the War to live year long in Sagrado when Frank had a conviction to serve his time in the U.S. Navy. Once there, Josh met Steenie, a role model, protector, and social educator to Josh. Steenie taught him all he needed to know about living in Sagrado, and they soon became the best of friends. Throughout the story the characters grew as they all learned of a new cultural differences. Three cultural differences in the novel were ethnicity, religion, and regional attitudes.

As seen in the novel Red Sky at Morning, there existed three different groups, creating complex ethnicity, and clear distinction. An example of this in the story is when Steenie explains to Josh “We only recongnize three kinds of people in Sagrado: Anglos, Indians, and Natives. You keep your catagories strait and you’ll make out alright.” (36) In this conversation Josh as the newcomer to Sagrado, is educated by Steenie to the cultural rules of the unique town. In that part of the country Indians and Natives came first. Josh being an Anglo was considered a minority and discovered that he better keep his place. Steenie told Josh to keep predjudiced comments about Mexicans or Indinas out of everyday coversation if he planned to survive in Sagrado. In Alabama on the other hand racial remarks were widely excepted about blacks in everyday culture. The distinct ethinic differences in Sagrado influenced the perception and actions of Josh as he grew to understand the cultures and their people.

Religion was an issue that continued to surface in the Arnold’s home, portraying peoples’ intolerance and primarily ignorance towards others beliefs. We see this in Mrs. Arnold’s dislike of Catholics. She makes her unhappiness strongly known by saying that one of the reasons she dislikes Sagrado is that “The town was full of Catholics.”(24) Another example of religious predjudices is when they lived in Mobile, Alabama. Mrs. Arnold asks her colored maid to sing Negro spirituals for a business associate who loved listening to that kind of music. Although Lacy (the maid) was Catholic and knew none of these Southern classics, Mrs. Arnold told her “ Lacey, don’t be silly. All of your…everybody knows those songs. They’re traditional.”(8) Lacey always sang the songs Mrs. Arnold wanted her to, but later told Josh she felt bad singing protestant songs and always attended confession to rid her guilt. Lacey no longer had to deal with this internal conflict once the Arnold’s moved, and Mrs. Arnold was forced to accept the influnece of different religions on her son Josh.

Regional attitudes strongly affected the people of Sagrado, causing them to fear the hostile reception of surrounding communities. There was a neighboring town called La Cima mainly made up of Indians. Josh was warned about the people that lived there, and it being a good idea to stay clear. One night, while Josh was visiting the house of the Montoya’s, (Amadeo and Excilda) he learned first hand about these regional differences. Amadeo, Victoria, (his daughter) and Josh decided to take a drive up to La Cima to see the ritual held during Christmas time. Amadeo had said that they would light big bonfires and have some sort of a pararde during the night. They remained in the car upon arriving and watched from a distance. As the ceremony was ending, Josh recongnized one of the girls from school and unwittingly hopped out of the car calling her name. This girl quickly ran off embarrassed, as Josh stood momentarily confused by her actions. His thoughts were abruptly interrupted as men surrounded and beat him. Luckily only a bruised body and ego were left to remind him of the incident. This experience educated Josh to the regional diversity that surrounded him.

Ethnicity, religion and regional attitudes were three issues in the novel Red Sky at Morning that had their roots in cultural differences. These issues found resolution in education. Once Josh learned the ways of the local people he found acceptance and contenment for himself. He was able to adapt to the cultural flipflop of finding himself a minority in Sagrado. Coming of age for Josh included expanding acceptance of peoples and their cultures.


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