Blurring of Cultural Boundaries in Global Literature

This week’s focus is on global literature, literature that shows the blending of two cultural identities. This week’s examples are as follows: 

“The Perforated Sheet” by Salman Rushdie, a story about a man who has recently been educated in Western medicine treating and falling in love with a girl while still following his cultural traditions around privacy and respect. 

“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, a text of a mother lecturing her daughter on what is expected of her in their culture. The writing is vague enough to apply to a lot of cultures, and it shows the similarity in how many different cultures treat women. 

“Wedding at the Cross,” by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, about a woman marrying a man who goes against the culture of her family and then falling out of love with him as he loses the personality she loved him for in favor of ‘proving something’ to her family. 

Book One of “Omeros,” by Derek Walcott, a poem about the interaction between many people of different cultures in their day-to-day life. 


The story I think best illustrates this theme of blurring cultural identity is “The Perforated Sheet” by Salman Rushdie. The main character goes to be educated in Western medicine, a different medical practice than he may have grown up around. He uses his new knowledge to help the people in his community when he returns, and continues to respect many of the community’s practices and beliefs. When the patient’s father insists he inspect her only by seeing the afflicted body part through a hole in a sheet for her privacy, he does not complain or insist on something else. He combines Western medicine with his own cultural values, and uses it to help others.


One way to teach this theme to students, have them read through the texts and pick which one they think is most representative of combined cultures. Ask if any of their favorite media involves the blending or blurring of cultures (An example I can think of right now is “Raya and The Last Dragon”). 

Have them explain how the text or other media they picked shows cultural blending in a written or spoken assignment. 

You May Also Like…