Memories of Childhood:
of Childhood’ presents two autobiographical accounts from the lives of two
women, both from marginalized communities. Both look back on their childhood
and reveal to us their conflict with the mainstream culture. The first account
by Zitkala-Sa presents her as a victim of the prejudice prevailing in the then
American society towards Native American culture and women. On the other hand,
Bama paints her people as the victims of the caste system.
both the accounts are not simple narratives of oppression. Rather they reveal
how oppression was resisted by both the narrators in their own ways. Zitkala-Sa
and Bama were very young but not so young that they would not understand the
evil scheme of the mainstream culture. The injustice of their society did not
escape their notice also. Their bitter childhood experience sowed the seeds of
rebellion in them earlier on. This surfaced in Zitkala-Sa in her hiding herself
in the curtained room, then in trying to resist with her might those who came
to cut her long hair and in Bama in her proving her worth in her class by
securing the first position outdoing all others. Bama’s elder brother advised
her to study with care so that one day the society would treat them with
respect and Bama took it upon herself as a challenge for her life.
the accounts are based in two distant cultures: the first, that of Native
Americans and the second, that of the Tamil Dalits. But the commonality that brings
them closer is the fact that in both cases the mainstream culture marginalized the
underprivileged section of that society. This gave rise to the conflict between
the mainstream culture and the marginalized community, which is
exquisitely showcased in ‘Memories of Childhood’.