Answer Structure- Cultural Context

As part of my comparative course, I have studied “How Many Miles to Babylon” by Jennifer Johnston and “Billy Elliot” by Stephen Daldry. Despite the fact that the main characters are radically different, I believe the main characters of each text are hugely influenced by their cultural context and are in conflict with the world they inhabit. Both Alec Moore in “How Many Miles to Babylon” (HMMB) and Billy Elliot in “Billy Elliot” (BE) are affected by their worlds but it is how they deal with the world they live in that sets our characters apart. Each of the texts has a strong class system that heavily influences the behaviour of its central characters. It is this idea of class and the ensuing pressures of parental influence to conform to socially accepted practices that puts our characters in conflict with their world.

From the very start of the novel, Alec, in HMMB, is an outsider because of his high status and his mothers desire to maintain that status.

Points to note:

  • Discuss isolation by his mother.
  • Discuss his status.
  • Introduce the character of Jerry and how this important relationship is affected by Alicia because of social reasons.
  • Relate in all to the culture in which he lives.

The issue of class and status is crucial to the world of HMMB. While Alec manages to escape the pressures Alicia places on him he cannot escape the demands of the society.

Points to note:

  • Talk about going to war to escape the pressures of society at home.
  • Show how even the war effort keeps class structure.
  • Discuss Major Glendenning’s efforts to enforce class division.
  • Show how class division affects Jerry and Alec’s relationship.

Society’s influences on Alec’s life come to a climax with the disappearance of Jerry.

Points to note:

  • Put emphasis on Major Glendenning’s opinion on class structure and his opinion on Jerry and Alec’s relationship.
  • Show how this ends in the death of our two characters.

Relate again to the culture he lives in.

3 thoughts on “Answer Structure- Cultural Context

    • Alec does not react at all. He leaves his mother and goes to Jerry. They get drunk and decide to go to war together. Jerry tells Alec that his mother was more than likely lying. Alec does struggle when speaking with his father after this. The main reaction is Alec’s decision to go to war

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