The relation between social environment and individual psychology is a kind of response that Malinowski represented in his introductory chapter of Argonauts  when he stated that "what concerns man most intimately holds life has on him". This is basically what was experienced by the old woman, named Maurya in the poem. This paper will attempt to define what is implied for an individual being alive and experiencing the selfhood of a socially constructed body in an Amazonian culture. Meanwhile, there has been some research in the recent time on this kind of issues that the body has to a large extent come to replace society as our discipline's major focus of analytic exploration. In fact, Strathern (1992) in his research confirmed that the society is nowhere if not in the body such that in the sequence of sets of relations involved in constructing and deconstructing it.

Appearance of Michael to Maurya

In addition, this viewpoint deals successfully with the many difficulties raised by older sociological reifications but it is not easy to reconcile it with any plausible view of selfhood. In so far as it is hard to imagine that people actually experience themselves purely as a succession of structured concatenations of bits and pieces, and it is even harder, in the absence of a minimally stable subjectivity, to account for the relative and sometime non-relative's continuity of existence in spirit. This can be seen in the excerpt from the poem "Riders to the Sea";

"MAURYA: Starts, so that her shawl falls back from her head and shows her white tossed hair. With a frightened voice.The gray pony behind him.

CATHLEEN: Coming to the fire. What is it ails you, at all?

MAURYA: Speaking very slowly. I've seen the fearfulest thing any person has seen, since the day Bride Dara seen the dead man with the child in his arms.

CATHLEEN AND NORA: Uah. They crouch down in front of the old woman at the fire.

NORA: Tell us what it is you seen.

MAURYA: I went down to the spring well, and I stood there saying a prayer to myself. Then Bartley came along, and he riding on the red mare with the gray pony behind him (she puts up her hands, as if to hide something from her eyes). The Son of God spare us, Nora!

CATHLEEN: What is it you seen?

MAURYA: I seen Michael himself. 220

CATHLEEN: Speaking softly. You did not, mother; It wasn't Michael you seen, for his body is after being found in the far north, and he's got a clean burial by the grace of God.

Don't wait until tomorrow!

You can use our chat service now for more immediate answers. Contact us anytime to discuss the details of the order

Place an order

MAURYA: A little defiantly. I'm after seeing him this day, and he riding and galloping. Bartley came first on the red mare; and I tried to say "God speed you," but something choked the words in my throat. He went by quickly; and "the blessing of God on you," says he, and I could say nothing. I looked up then, and I crying, at the gray pony, and there was Michael upon it - with fine clothes on him, and new shoes on his feet.

MAURYA: I seen Michael himself" (Synge (1903).

Michael has been confirmed dead in the sea but the old woman- Mauya could feel his presence as described.

Hence, I shall take as my preliminary view a minor paradox implicit in the ethnography of the indigenous cultures of lowland South America. Firstly, anthropological accounts of these groups are replete with statements to the effect that Amazonian Indians do not believe that death can be caused by natural causes. However, they rather see it as due to evil human agency.

Secondly, in this kind of view point it is perceived that death exists only as a form of murder irrespective of whatever form it comes. This conception of mortality is thought to lie at the heart of two highly important types of social practice;  involving, shamanism and different forms of institutionalized feuding and hostility which sometimes is between domestic groups, between segments of tribes and could even be among tribes or ethnic entities.  However, in all these groups we consistently come across one or numerous backgrounds of the origin of mortality, in which death seems to be viewed in a far more 'naturalistic' light that is, as a feature of the way the world is and, in short, as an inevitable fact of life. This second point of understanding seems to imply that Amazonians do after all, seem to conceive death as some sort of generally expected occurrence that everybody will surely experience one day.


In conclusion, the understandable 'rationality' of this certainty of life especially from this point of view attracts many anthropologists into a familiar kind of impulsive functionalism which lure them to explaining the malicious view of mortality as an ideological device necessary for the continuity of major sociological institutions. The underlying assumption being that the Indians do not believe in it as they believe in the naturalistic view of death. After all, if people are destined to die anyway, it seems unnecessarily redundant to assume that they are always being murdered.

Calculate the Price of Your Paper

300 words

Related essays

  1. Rhetoric and Meaning in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
  2. Tracks Written by Tomas Transtromer
  3. Things Fall Apart
  4. The Role of Religion in Literature
Discount applied successfully