Conservatism can be defined as a political philosophy as well as a social philosophy.
According to Wikipedia the theme encourages “tradition, human imperfection, organic society, hierarchy and authority, and property rights.” However, the first thing that come to my mind when I hear the word conservative is a normative society where certain social groups are considered less worthy and therefore less powerful. Obviously conservatism occurs in copious literature, I would say especially hierarchy and authority considering it’s quite a trend writing about social classes. In the short stories I’ve chosen to analyse, “Hills Like White Elephants” and “A Family Supper”, I clearly identified conservatism as a mutual theme but in thoroughly different ways. The draft from “Hills Like White Elephants” is primarily about a discussion between a man and a woman who’s in a relationship. At first it may seem as an innocent and neutral conversation at the same time as it undoubtedly is about something sincerely. Although, when you figure out what they are discussing, whether or not the woman should have an abortion, it becomes clear how the man uses his power as a man to manipulate her to get his own will through.
For example he says “I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.” referring to the abortion, and he also keeps repeating “that it is a really simple operation” to reinsure her that it’s no big deal to perform the abortion.
Still he never asks her what she wants or discusses the option of having the baby as if her feelings wasn’t as important. The woman, or as she is called in the draft “the girl” which reinforces her inferiority, is relaying on the man’s opinion and keeps asking him what he wants acting as if she doesn’t have the ability to decide for herself. She answer his quote above with “And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?”.
As can be seen, both the girl and the man values his opinion the most and the girl seems willing to do anything as long as she’s sure he won’t leave her. After all she fears ending up alone with a baby because it isn’t on the man’s terms anymore. Honestly it’s absurbed how she seems to be able to give up anything for him when the man doesn’t even acknowledges her desires. “A Family Supper” takes place when a japanese man reunite with his father and sister after having left Japan as a teenager because of a conflict with his parents. Already from the beginning of the text you can sense the father’s formality and rigidity. As well as how he is highly driven by success and norms which cause him being narrow-minded. To clarify with an example he says to the son “I’ve come to believe now that there were no evil intentions in your mind.
You were swayed by certain – influences. Like so many others.” Furthermore you can easily notice tension between the family members because of the pressure the father creates due to his strict values, as can be seen in this example: ‘My sister relaxed quite visibly once he had left the room’.
Hence to the father’s attitude he has a shallow and distant relationship to the children which results in an unloving and untrue family. For me it seems almost more as a business relationship than a relation to someone you should love unconditionally. Altogether it implies the father values his appearance outwards such as success and prestige more than his children’s own ambitions and desires for their future. Further the children burdens by the father’s constantly high expectations and therefore are unable to be genuine with him which leads to a narrow relationship.I believe that the inferiority women carry is a consequence of a conservative upbringing depending on the gender which unfortunately even today isn’t rare at all. As I mentioned earlier one of the things conservatism encourages is hierarchy and authority which indicates that certain groups should have more power. Undoubtedly women has always been the inferior sex leading to men’s ability to control women and make them feel small compared to the men.
While this may seem old fashioned it’s still not eradicated in our society. Obviously society has improved significant since women today has the same rights as men in many societies but we still raise women and men to be unequals. Therefore I think the draft from “Hills Like White Elephants” perfectly portrays how our earlier conservative hierarchy and authority still makes women feel as underdogs and gives the men ascendancy. In contrast the conservatism in “A Family Supper” identifies by the importance of dignity, success and tradition which is typical for Japanese culture unlike my own.
Although the father clearly thinks authority is deeply crucial I feel as it is the tradition who drives him. Myself has a hard time to relate to the importance of tradition due to my Swedish raise which has a dissimilar culture. Whereas in Japan it’s generally stricter values and higher pressure from society for you to achieve great things. Even if tradition has its conveniences it also comes with its deficiency