Blog 6: Individual Vs the World

“The House of Sand and Fog” depicts many ideas of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. ““The House of Sand and Fog” depicts two individuals struggling to gain what was rightfully theirs and struggling to gain some recognition within the society. Each individual both live in a world where nothing is real, but all pretense—pretentious in the society and pretentious to one self—that they lose a sense of identity and the meanings of life.

Marx’s ideas of alienation, and class—bourgeoisie and proletariat are the main focus in the movie. In the beginning of “The House of Sand and Fog” there is a huge distinction between the bourgeoisie and proletariat (poor and the rich) by how Colonel Behrani is dressed and his attitude toward events and Kathy’s family background.  Colonel Behrani is featured as a well-dress, respected person who looks like he works in a high class job.  The people in his daughter’s wedding asked whether he was working or whether he worked at all. He was described as an elegant person who took care of his skin because he was tanned. He was basically looked at as one of those “ruling class” in a capitalistic society. Whereas Kathy’s parents are considered as the proletarians who worked to make ends meet every day. Kathy’s mom had told Kathy that Kathy’s father had always wake up at 4:30AM to go to work. This classification of each class distinguishes the differences between how class is looked at from other people’s point of view. The movie shows only two depiction of class—bourgeoisie and the proletariat, it does not show a division of class within a class like Weber’s concept.

Similar to Marx’s idea, Weber’s concept of authority, status and the protestant ethic becomes the next important components. In the movie, Colonel Behrani is depicted to have authority, and the protestant ethic characteristics. For instance, because of Colonel Behrani’s background as a member in the Iranian war, he does not fear anything. He used his authority to get what he wants and what he thinks his family needs. When Colonel Behrani had forced his wife to move into a better home and had slapped his wife for disrespecting him, he had some form of power that gave him permission to act the way he did. Also when Colonel Behrani was asked to move out of the house in exchange to be refunded the cost of his house, he refused and demanded that he get 4 times the amount he bought the house for or no deal. Because he was respected in his own country, it might explain why he behaved the way he did when he came to the U.S. He saw everyone as though they are low –life people or people not worth associating with. He stated that in Iran he used to be everything until he was forced to leave his own country.  However after being forced to leave the country, he’s been struggling to maintain his image and his earnings. He worked two jobs and calculated carefully on what he spent to buy a house. His labor and goals reflect the Protestant ethics, because he was working to achieve a goal. However, working too many house forced him to diminish the identity and profound purpose of his goal. As a result, he became unknown to himself and to others.

The only person who had not truly lost their identity was the mother or the wife of Colonel Behrani; she still treated her home as a sacred and profane object or purpose.  Durkheim’s sacred and profane was depicted in the movie when Mrs. Behrani was forced to leave in a house and later move out. When Kathy got injured, Mrs. Behrani covered Kathy’s foot with a bag so to keep the house clean.  This shows how she still made the home as though it was something special and important to her.

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One response to “Blog 6: Individual Vs the World

  1. Good work. Indeed, the concept of alienation offers another way of understanding Behrani’s predicament. Your remarks about identity are interesting. One question to keep in mind is whether there is such a thing as a “true” identity, which can be lost and perhaps found. Another possibility is that identity is fluid and multiple, shaped by all of our social relations, that we have different “identities” depending on the context, with whom we are interacting.

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