Comparing and Contrasting Depiction of Ethnic Identity

Ethnicity refers to a group of people who have similarities that identify them such as culture, language, nation, ancestry, or society. Ethnicity is inherited and members are known to share a similar history, homeland or cultural heritage. Norton and Bonny (45) asserted that ethnic groups from the same historical background usually speak the same language and it is also common to share the same gene pool. Panethnicity is when two or more ethnicity groups combine to form a single ethnicity while clans or tribes are subdivisions of a larger group. It is possible for one to leave one ethnic group for another through religious conversion, adoption or shifting to another language. It is common to find people from one ethnic group in one geographical area or in one nation. There have been many theories or approaches used by social scientists in studying ethnicities such as modernism, primordialism, perennialism, instrumentalism, essentialism, and constructivism.

Ethnicity can be used to benefit the society or to harm it. For example in Africa, many ethnic groups have fought one another due to the differences existing between them. Genocide is a term used to refer to an ethnic group that performs mass killing to another ethnic group in order to end its existent. It was in 1994 in Rwanda when one of world’s genocide was carried out when Hutu and Tutsi ethnic group clashed. Likewise, holocaust means when one race intends to terminate another race such as that of Nazi to Jews. Genocide, holocaust and all forms of ethnic cleansing must be avoided at all cost. They are all evils against human beings and unacceptable to any democratic society. The following paper, therefore, compares and contrasts the role or depiction of ethnic identity.

Ethnicity is in the singular because it is in a countable and uncountable noun. For example, we can say “”Halim family has Indian ethnicity””. The plural of ethnicity is ethnicities. Mixed or Mestizo refers to persons with mixed blood with Asian ancestry. Other people with mixed blood are found in Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico. Isaji and Wsevolod (115) said that the main limitations of a major social anthropological issues o ethnicity are considered. It is then suggested an overall classification of inter-ethnic contexts and the criteria to differentiate these contexts is then suggested. An understanding of cultural differences should go hand in hand with the formal features of ethnicity considered in either to the level of interaction or social formation. In Zoot Suit, Luis Valdez unfolds a story with real-life events. Henry Reyna was a gangster whose group was prosecuted unfairly for a murder. The prosecution jailed them for a murder they had not committed. The Pachucos start with Spanish and the shift to English on realizing that the Anglo- Americans who are not Mexicans could not understand what they were saying. Then a rival group, Chicano, appears at Sleepy Lagoon and Hank Reyna warns of manhandling Hanks brother. Hank is convinced that police have to charge him with a murder as Pachuco warns him that he wasn’t in his country. This means that Hank charged due to race factor.

In the Devil in a Blue Dress, Ezekiel Easy Rawlins is the main character and had worked as a day laborer before becoming a detective. The detective, Easy is an African- American and the novel contributes to an ethnic defective. Easy use African-American English and when in dangerous or stressful a situation brings the essence of gender identity and ethnic detective. In formal approach, ethnicity concepts are a social process where ideas of cultural differences are discussed. This makes it simple to deal comparatively with ethnicity and to deal with ethnic phenomena without crude ideas of people and culture. Social circumstances and the historical base in which a particular ethnic has been developed. Place and time where the ethnic phenomena have developed are important as it should be investigated. The idea comparing and contrasting the role of ethnic identity is evident on where it evolved. This makes it easy for study and analysis.

Another important aspect is the boundary that defines the group and not the culture it possesses and that ethnicity deals mostly with relationship. However, there is no doubt that ethnic distinctions exist despite the insignificant differences of objective cultural trait distribution. These cultural differences seen in all ethnic differences may or may not have a deep effect on the ethnic relations. The differences should be investigated, including their form of articulation and contexts on discussion should be well understood together with inter-ethnic communication actions. Fearon, James, and David (75) asserted that the cultural differences in its ethnical interaction have proved impossible to be compressed to its form without loss of comprehension analysis. Brass and Paul (330) said that in a particular point in ethnicity analysis, where familiar differences don’t permit a meaningful interaction, it is not possible to neglect important features such as cultural, social and, historical context. Therefore, formal modeling of ethnicity may fail due to many reasons such leaving out aspects ethnicity and by not regarding the importance of cultural differences.

In the novel, The Big Sleep, features a detective known as Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is called by a wealthy man by the name of Gerald Sternwood to prevent an attempt by a bookseller to blackmail his daughter. The daughter had been earlier blackmailed by Joe Brody. Then Marlowe concludes that Carmen is the one who killed Rusty. Marlowe confronts Vivian and at last, she confesses that Rusty is buried and Mars was paid to bury her. Marlowe death names it as the “”big sleep” and at the end, he comes to the conclusion that death is the only escape from nasty life. Marlowe experiences ethnicity in that he comes from a different background and is accepted in the new society and given an investigation job. However, due to different cultures, there follows a complicated murder in which in which innocence is charged due to ethnicity. This scenario brings out the comparison and contrasting the depiction of ethnic identity in that the main character is led by ethnicity in his investigations. Marlowe at some point, returns the gun to Carmen and even takes her to shooting practice.

In my opinion, the ethic differences should not be taken for granted in analysis and in their description. Brass and Paul said that the ethical description is that which is in favor of taking the representations of ordinary agents in a serious manner. A lot of the people would argue or rather prefer the struggle for social autonomy and cultural identity was not for sake as manipulation of symbols. Native should neither act as alternate to universal form nor should not replace analysis. The idea of culture should be held in such a way that individuals or an ethnicity group are not used for analysis but for context interaction. Ethnic differences and a form of language games and extends to cover communication that can be described and observed in cultural difference. Culture cannot be regarded as a fixed property, this means it cannot be measured and its differences cannot be identified. In the novel The Big Sleep, Marlowe as a detective also does not have an accord with ideas of those surrounding him in that they are all inclined to one ethnicity group and ideas or the other. Ethnicity should be encouraged to promote peace and good morals between members of a different group. People from a different ethnic group should be able to accommodate others and be able to learn positively from each other.


In conclusion, In Zoot Suit, Luis Valdez does accords with the ideas of those around him in that when his gang is charged with a murder they have not committed it affects the whole group. In the Devil in a Blue Dress, Ezekiel Easy also does not accord with the ideas of those around him in that he is biased his investigations.

Work Cited

Isajiw, Wsevolod W. “”Definitions of Ethnicity.”” Ethnicity 1.2 (1974): 111-124.

Norton, Bonny. Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change. Editorial Dunken, 2000:45.

Fearon, James D., and David D. Laitin. “”Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war.”” American political science review? 97.1 (2003): 75-90.

Brass, Paul R. Ethnicity and nationalism: Theory and comparison. Sage Publications (CA), 1991:37.

Brass, Paul. “”Language and ethnicity: The view from within.”” The handbook of sociolinguistics? (1997): 327-343.

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