Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

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Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

Post by Foolster41 » 19 Dec 2015 03:42

The fanficton society topic reminded me of this story I was writing, and so I was looking at it again, doing a little writing, and I realized I never posted it here.
I admit, a story exclusively that's a travelouge about people navigating the the culture shock might not be a very interesting story, sadly I'm not sure what sort of plot line to do on top of it, perhaps an indication of having not fleshed this world out enough yet, and not being sure what I want to actually do with this world. But for what it's worth, here is what I have so far.

Boy of Two homes

Note: This is a story about a human boy from a vaguely western European-esque country who goes with his father to live in a desert nation of lizard-people, a con-culture I’d been working on for a very long time. I had a first chapter where he first arrives, but I didn’t like it and I’m not sure how yet to rewrite it.

Background stuff that was deleted: In this culture, children usually run around with no clothing (it's very hot), and only wear clothes (usually a loin cloth called a Aki) if they're doing chores (to signify for other children not to bother/distract them. When a kid turns 10 they start wearing clothes all the time.)

I have some questions added to the bottom, other feedback is welcome.

Two - Playing Sports
The next day we ate breakfast (some fruit and a sweet bread) and I was going to go with Laila to one of his friend’s house to play.

We entered the area of the city with the big square sandstone houses with big courtyards I had passed on the way into the city.

Ahead, down a sloped walkway was the large, clear pool of the oasis lake. There was actually grass , plants and trees growing around it. The only real green probably for many miles.

There were a bunch of boys standing by the doorway of one of the house courtyards, and one of the boys waved at us.

Laila introduced them each by name. None of them wore a stitch of clothing. When we got close they crowded around me. They asked Laila a bunch of questions in Salthan, and he either asked me in common and relayed it, or answered if he knew and told me in common what he was saying. Sometimes they'd look at me, open their mouths like they wanted to say something, but then glance down at me and say nothing. Sometimes someone would ask a question in common, proudly that they knew my language, though it was always phrased as “ask him” directed at Laila.“We’re going to play Nenksdache,” Laila said.
“What’s- Nenk’s dash?”
“Nenksdache.” He said, pronouncing dache like the ch in chase. Laila said. “It’s a ball game. I’ll teach it to you. Come on!”
I followed Laila and the others into the rectangular courtyard. The courtyard was as big as the house itself.

Kykathea- the boy who’s house it was- made a mark, in the shape of a horizontal rectangle on one part of the wall, opposite the front door with chalk. There were twelve boys besides Laila and I. We split up into teams, with six on a side. Laila was quickly picked by the first team, and II was picked last by the other one.. The goal of the game was for the "attacking" team to strike the ball against the goal line. Often a boy wouldn’t merely tap the wall, but slam it hard to get it past the others, so it’d hit the wall with a satisfyingly loud and hollow sounding “Thwak!” If they missed, or the other team got the ball and carried it to the other wall we would trade off. with the defending team getting a chance to be the attacker. Players are not allowed to use their hands. We played for a bit, but none of my teammates were willing to pass to me. They ignored me, even when I waved my arms and shouted. I didn't understand it. They were all crowding around us, and had so many questions, but now they ignored me.

Walking with Laila back home I told him "I don't think they like me." I was surprised to see his mouth open, in what I realized was astonishment. “What?!” he said “Why would you say that?”
He hadn't noticed?
“They didn’t pass the ball to me at all.” I said.
He then looked really thoughtful, walking in silence.
"It's not you, it's because you're clothed." he said.
"Those who are clothed are busy. So, to them you look like you're busy, doing chores."
I felt discouraged. How was I ever going to fit in?

Three - A visit to the temple
The next day Laila suggested we visit the temple. It was in the center of town, a mile or so from the house. The temple walls were tall, about ten feet high and had large square blocks like the battlements on the castles I had seen in my own country. I almost expected to see soldiers with spears patrolling on a walkway. but when we entered the courtyard, I saw no soldiers and no walkway even to walk on. The square bumps were there only for decoration. The courtyard was about twenty steps across. and then through another doorway directly across I could see another courtyard and the temple itself. The courtyard had two one story buildings on opposite sides of the courtyard on either side of the doorway that stretched from one wall to the other. Lail pointed to the building on the right. "For Healing sick and hurt." he said. Lail reached out an arm to the building to the left then lead me inside.
The building I realized was much larger than it appeared from the outside, as it stretched into the next courtyard. The building inside had a small pool of water, and some buckets one one. On the other was a row of alcoves with a curtains. At this moment all of them were empty, the curtains opened so I could see inside. Each had a sort of stone table and next to it a wooden rack with a switch and short leather whip.

"This room for purifying" Lail explained. There was a sort of mix of reverence and fear in his voice. I remembered the switching I got when I arrived, and how physical punishment was part of the process of being clean in Saltha. I was afraid he might think I needed to be purified. "Do I need to be purified to enter the temple?" I asked. He looked at me first surprise and then quickly he smiled. "No" he said. "If you're here to look, no need.". I was relieved.
"Us kids usually don't come here to be purified, mostly just the adults, unless a kid is trying to show off."
Lail went to the pool and dumped a bucket of water on himself. He shook himself to take the excess water off. A drain in a recess in the floor removed the water from the floor. "I'll dry off quickly" he said with a smile. I took the bucket and dumped some water over my head, bending over so I wouldn’t get my pants wet. The cold water felt good.
We continued on to the next courtyard. This courtyard was a little larger than the other one. In different places around the courtyard were various statues, symbols of the deities of the Santhan religion. Each stood facing inward towards the center of the courtyard.

Ahead was a building that towered over the courtyard. That was the temple housing for the priests, Laila explained. “Only the priests go in there.”
Above the door hung a star with twenty-five points. Lail told me this represented the chief God, Santh.

Lail went to the center of the room and kneeled on a mat, bowing forward, pointing himself towards the star. He said something in Saltha I didn't understand. Then he rose up. He told me this was a traditional Salthan prayer. the translation was "Great in strength is Santh, Great in power is Santh. Great in Knowledge is Santh. Please be a light before us. Please protect us. May it be so.".
After that we went home.

Four- Bath house
One day, on Laila’s insistence, Laila and I went to a local bath house.

The front entry room was a small room. A portly Salthan man stood leaning behind a desk.

There were two doorways on either side of the desk on the opposite wall covered by fabric that hung above them. The one on the right was blue, the other light red, and each had a symbol on it.

Laila explained the symbol on the blue, one (a symbol pronounced “ah”) meant "males" and the light red one (pronounced “ee”) "females". Laila gave the man two silver coins and then lead me to the blue curtained door. Inside was a wall covered in small cubby holes. There were a few other men and boys here undressing to go to the bath or dressing to go home. Laila immediately took off his Aki and put it in a cubby. "You can put your clothes in here" he said.

I felt a bit shy, undressing in front of all these strangers, but I followed Laila’s lead, kicking off my sandals and taking off my clothes.

The next room was up some steep stairs to the next room. All of the floors were polished very smooth and flat, and was somewhat satisfying to feel under my feet.

This room had around the edges faucets with pump handles I saw some people pumping the handles up and down to get water. "We wash here first." Laila said, and he gave me a bar of soap.

So We went each to a faucet and soaped up and rinsed off. The water was ice cold. I had forgotten about the water when I got the bath the first day. Even with the hot weather, the ice cold water took me by surprise.

Next we went through another blue curtain to the room with the main bath.

The room was pretty large with a big tub of hot water in the center. A cloud of heat and moisture hovered in the air. People sat along the edges, soaking, and some children swam around in the center. A boy near us about our age looked to us and stood up, calling Laila’s name. I happened to glance down and I realized that he wasn't a boy, but she was a girl!

Past her on the other side of the pool I could see the red curtained door where other females were going in and out. It hadn’t occurred to me until this moment that this might be a mixed-sex bath.

I covered myself with my hands and I could feel my face burn hot. This was the first time I'd been naked in front of a girl that I could remember.

Laila and the girl didn't seem at all embarrassed, they kept their hands at their sides. "Are you hurt?" Laila asked. I shook my head, struck mute from embarrassment. I looked at the ground.

I could see out of my periphery he motioned towards me and said something in Salthan. She made a sort of coughing noise and I looked at her, meeting her eyes. The girl smiled and raised her arms so they were flat at her elbow, putting her hands stretched upward, the greeting I’d seen when I first arrived and now a few times after. "Dika esha" she said, bobbing her head. I bobbed my head, but kept my hands where they were "dika esha." I said, and feeling self conscious, broke my gaze again. The girl's smile faded a little for a moment. "good to meet you" she said in my language. She stuck her hand out. "Good to meet you" I said, but again kept my hands where they were. She turned towards Lail, frowning. “|aka” she growled. "Tas tosa" he said to her. She quickly turned and walked away.
"I think I better go." I said and ran back through the sheet door, and down the stairs back to the dressing room area. Laila followed me.
“Why are you being rude?” he asked in what I'm sure he thought was a whisper, but was more a half-whisper and the others in the room were looking at us.
"Huh?" I said, a little louder than I intended. What was he talking about? He put me into this awkward situation.
"When you didn't greet back, she even tried to greet you your own way."
I shook my head. Was he not paying attention?
“I did greet her back.” I said.
“No, you only mouthed it.” He said.
Mouthed it? I realized, they were upset because I didn’t raise my hands in the Salthan greeting, and then she was trying to shake my hand, but I didn’t do that either.
"You didn't tell me there would be girls."
"Yes?"
He said it so casually.
"It's just something I'm not used to."
"But you can get used to it."
Get used to it? I was shocked by this. Was he being serious?
"No I can't. It's a human thing. You wouldn't understand."
He just stood there looking at me, a perplexed and disgusted look on his face.
"I wouldn't understand?” he finally said. “But you can understand our ways? That's why you came here. We're too dumb to understand but you can?"
"No. I didn't mean it like that."
"I just wanted to have you on equal ground." he said.
“I’m sorry, I have to go.” I said. I grabbed my clothes and threw them on, and then ran home. I was sure Laila hated me now. Now I had no friends at all.

Five - Fitting in
It took a few days of funny looks between us, but we didn’t remain former friends for long. “I understand” he said. “You're getting used to this new land. I’d probably act funny too, in your country,”

Laila didn’t invite me to the bathhouse but occasionally went alone. I didn’t tell my father about it. I didn’t think he would be mad or anything, since I went not knowing. It felt too embarrassing to talk to him about it. I did tell him about how none of the kids were passing the ball during the ball game, because of my clothes. He told me to give it time, that they’d get used to me.
“Remember what I told you. Just because they undress outside doesn’t mean it’s alright for you to.”
“Yes sir.” I said.

I was still invited to play Nenksdache, and Laila made sure to be on my team when he could, picking me when he was captain. This way at least someone would pass to me, but none of the other kids did. I would get the ball occasionally from Laila, or by accident when the ball slipped away to me, but I’d quickly lose control the ball, or make a pass when I was being crowded by an opponent. So the rare moments were also short. Months passed like this, and there didn’t seem to be any change.

One day, while playing Nenksache, I turned to Laila. “I have to do something.”. I went to one of the corners and stood there, facing it. Was I really going to do what I was about to do? There weren’t any girls around. Though I was outside there was this large wall. The only other people who could see me in the house, and I knew Kythea, the boy who lived here didn't have any sisters.

I slipped off my shirt and put it on the ground. I could feel the force of the heat of the afternoon sun on my back. I put my hands on the hem of my shorts. I took a breath and dropped my shorts and stepped out. I stood there, naked still feeling too embarrassed to turn.

I took another breath and turned, keeping my hands to my side. It was a bit embarrassing, but I got back into the game and after a short while I felt more relaxed.

Over the next few months, I went back to play, undressing first thing. Over the course of a few months I felt less and less self-conscious.

One day while we were playing, another Salthan came into the courtyard. I realized it was a girl. Tasa’s little sister, the same girl I saw at the bath house. She dressed with an Aki, and was evidently on an errand. She went up to Tasa and told him something. Then she looked at me. I gave her the Salthan greeting, putting my hands upward and bobbed my head. She returned the greeting with a smile and left. I realized that the time she was there that I didn’t have any impulse to cover myself, even when she looked right at me.
--

More months passed, playing dandache and I was feeling like I was getting fairly good.Not great, I was still one of the worst, but I was getting more accurate with shooting and passing.

“Zach!” I jumped, and turned. Standing there was my dad, with another human, a man who looked older than Him. “What are you doing?” There was an impossible tangle of hurt, confusion and anger in his voice. I didn’t know which one was most dominant. Boy of Two homes

"Come on!" my father said. Then he turned to the other man. "I'm really sorry. I'm going to have to deal with this." Then he said "come on." again to me and walked away. I knew better than to disobey and I followed behind him. He slowed his pace suddenly and grabbed my arm. "I'm very disappointed in you, and embarrassed." he said. "That was someone I work with from home."
He took me by the arm through the front room to the bathroom. Without letting go of my wrist he sat down on the seat and then let go of my arm.
"We came here to observe their culture, but I told you I expected you to remain modest. We respect their customs, but that doesn’t mean I agree with them all. If I hadn't said anything that would be one thing, but this was deliberate disobedience. Pull down your pants."
I hesitated, from fear of the punishment more than anything.
"You're not embarrassed to take your clothes off in public, but you are in front of me? Now."
I knew better than to hesitate more. I slipped down my pants and underwear, and let them fall to my feet and stood there in front of my father. He took the rod from the shelf with his right and, and grabbed my arm with his left. He pulled me forward and I fell across his lap, and I felt his left arm lying across my back. WHACK! It stung, and I involuntarily cried out “ow!”. The swats kept coming at a steady rate. Pretty quickly my eyes were watering and then I was crying. I got about a dozen of them, and then he stopped and let me get up.

I stood and rubbed my sore bottom. "I expect you to still behave as a (home country)ian." my father said. "When you are ready you may redress and come back out." He then left the room.

Chapter 6 - (No Title)

Things went back to the way they were when I first started playing ball. Once again, only Laila was the one who would pass to me, when he was on the same team.

One day, one of the boys came still dressed in an Aki, though this one was different. It was dyed blue, and had an intricate pattern sewn into it. The boys each said “Kalsal” to him (Congratulations, “you did good”).

We played, with the boy being one of the captains, and the boys treated him as normal, passing to him. I asked Laila later why they were passing to him when he was dressed, and not me.

Laila explained that he was an “Uagi”, he had his tenth birthday, and had gone through the ritual, where he was no longer considered a child, and so he wasn’t allowed to go around undressed.

I asked about the ritual, and he explained the boy is whipped across the bottom 10 strikes. It sounded horrible, and I didn’t say any more.

But it still gnawed at me, and so I asked my dad about me going through the ritual when I turned ten.

He shook his head. “You don’t know what you are asking.”
“I do. The boy gets whipped.” I tried to sound as casual as I could when I said this.
“And you want to do this? Why?”
I explained how the boys still wouldn’t pass the ball, how I felt like an outsider.
My father shook his head. “You don’t really know what you are asking for. I don’t want you to go through that.”

Part of me was relived. Perhaps it was cowardly. I wanted to fit in, but I wasn’t really willing to go through that, was I? It was settled at no fault of mine.

Another three months passed. And I struggled, Struggled to obey my father and remain dressed, because I was afraid of punishment, and I struggled with the temptation to ask again. Wanting him to say yes, but also afraid he would.
Day after day I’d play, and Laila was the only one who would act like I was there, when we were on the same team. This ate at me too.

One day I got up the courage and mentioned to my dad again. I told him that I was serious, that I didn't want to be whipped, but I was willing to, if it was how I could belong here.
“Give it time.” he said.
“I did, it’s been over a year now.”
My father said nothing.

Another month came and went, same as before. I brought up how Laila’s tenth birthday was coming soon, and my birthday was only a few months after that, and how he’d be a Uagi and I wouldn’t. I reminded him that I was serious about the ritual. “I still don’t think it’s a good idea.” he said.
I found out later, that every time I asked, my dad talked to Laila’s dad, and that he was suggesting that I do the ritual.

The day eventually came for Laila’s tenth birthday.The upstairs had been cleared of all the cloth “walls”, making it one big room. Laila’s mat laid on the floor, and all the other bed mats were rolled up against a wall.

I was upstairs with Laila, when my father came up and said he wanted to speak to me privately. I followed him into the bathroom, since there weren’t a lot of rooms to speak alone.
He sat down, and took hold of both of my shoulders, and looked me in the eye, a piercing look. A serious look was on his face.
“You said, you wanted to go through the ritual. If you really want to, you will go through it, today. Are you sure? As far as Laila knows, I am the one who is saying no. if you say no.”

I sighed, building up courage.
“Yes.” I found myself pressing myself to say, blurting it out before my brain could figure out what was going on.
“Alright.” he said. I followed up upstairs and my father dragged out my bed mat and placed it alongside Laila’s.

Laila’s father nodded to us. “It’s time.”he said.

I pulled off my clothes. We were told to lay on our mats. I tried to keep myself calm, but I was shaking a little. I had my head turned towards Laila next to me. He put his hand out to me. Did he think I need comfort? Then I saw, in his smile he was biting at his lip a little.

I had assumed that, since this was part of his culture, this would be easier for him, but he was afraid too.

I took his hand, and held it tight. Standing behind us, between our feet, Laila’s father was standing, facing towards Laila. I saw the whip, in his right hand, a long strand of hide with a leather handle hanging down.

I felt my heartbeat suddenly sped up. I knew what was about to happen, but the real visceral reality of what was happening kicked in as I laid there naked, exposed and helpless on the floor. I found my self squeezing Laila’s hand tighter.

Laila’s father crouched down and picked up Laila’s tail with his left hand, and stood up. He held Laila’s tail so it was pointing to the ceiling, uncovering his bottom. Then I saw his hand swing and the whip arced and struck Laiala. I heard the loud CRACK - louder than I expected, Simultaneously I heard Laila cry out and I saw him jolt in pain. I turned away and shut my eyes., CRACK. CRACK. Laila cried louder, and was soon sobbing. There was a slightly longer gap between the strokes, but then they quickened again. Then it was over. I felt Laila’s hand let go of mine. I heard him sobbing, and footsteps.

I looked back at Laila who was laying with his tail back down, rubbing his bottom. His head was turned from me. Laila’s father was facing towards me. CRACK. The whip came down on my bottom and it burned like fire, like I never felt before and I cried out. I felt suddenly Laia’s hand take a hold of mine before the second stroke. CRACK. It wasn’t long before I too was crying. I burned more with each strike. Finally it was over for me, and I rubbed my sore bottom.

I felt a hand on my head, and turned and saw Laila’s father hand a hand on each of our heads.
“Congratulations. You are Uagi.” He said, firmly.
“I’m proud of you boys” my father said.
“Let’s leave them to recover a bit” Laila’s father said to my father, and then left.
We lay there for a while, both crying and then I heard Laila’s crying turn to laughter. He turned to me, a smile on his face though still wet with tears in his eyes. “We did it.” he said.
“We did it.” I said.
---
Is this sort of story (Fantasy Travelogue?) interesting? Or do I need something more to this (an actual plot with adventure, intrigue or something)?

The characters feel a bit flat, like this is more of an outline than a story. I guess I need to think more about their personalities and how that works into the story.

Does the whole "being dressed" thing make sense as a custom? They have it built as a taboo to talk to dressed kids, because of what it represents, but wouldn't they easily accept it as an exception since he's an outsider, and adults would tell them it's okay? I want there to be cultural conflict.

Does it make sense that a boy coming from a clothed culture would eventually undress?

Does it make sense that the dad would allow his son to be whipped eventually?
Last edited by Foolster41 on 10 Sep 2016 05:10, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

Post by elemtilas » 23 Dec 2015 04:10

Foolster41 wrote:The fanficton society topic reminded me of this story I was writing, and so I was looking at it again, doing a little writing, and I realized I never posted it here.
I admit, a story exclusively that's a travelouge about people navigating the the culture shock might not be a very interesting story, sadly I'm not sure what sort of plot line to do on top of it, perhaps an indication of having not fleshed this world out enough yet, and not being sure what I want to actually do with this world. But for what it's worth, here is what I have so far.
This kind of story is only uninteresting if you work hard to make it boring and uninteresting! There is inherent worth in describing a culture by telling its mundane story just as there is worth in telling a dashing story of a gallant knight a-questing. The kind of story you seem to be trying to tell is not as concerned with "plot" so much as character and setting. In this kind of story, in fact, it is the setting and the background characters in it that are brought to the fore and allowed to act for us.

I don't think you háve to "do a plot line" on top of this, but you certainly could. And in fact you hint at several directions it could go -- you mention, for example, that Saltha has recently been conquered and Zach's father is sent as cultural envoy, a representative and a bridge builder. But certainly there must be some Salthans who will resist. Perhaps traditionalists or royalists who do not wish to get with the new programme and who will try to restore the old order and do away with the foreign influence as an aside? Perhaps not everyone Zach meets -- even children -- are so welcoming of a visiting conqueror?

Perhaps you could break up the longer, overarching plot line of intrigue and post-war violence / discontent into several chapters that will tie into the various Salthan places that Zach visits.

Someone here asked a while back about good books to read for information on 19th century life, and I gave the book title Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay as a good example. This book ìs indeed a story, yet it has no plot, no main character, no foil or antagonist. It tells the story of a community, in fact, of a small town in rural England. To us in the early 21st century, we must be every but as foreign to that bygone town as Zach is among the Salthans. But he is telling the same story as this book tells -- the story of a community, of its people, and not just "of people", but of individual persons who we meet and who we come to know, who speak to us and, through this kind of anecdotal narrativity, we interact with. After reading that book, I feel that I could get off a bus in that town and experience the sense of yes, I know this place, I know its people, I have lived its life -- I know it as it once was, but indeed I know it!

It's not the same kind writing as straight narrative. Your story has no "beginning", no "plot" and no "ending". And it does take considerable skill as a writer and an intimate knowledge of the culture to pull off. But I think you have here a good beginning to an interesting story. This doesn't mean you can't write the other kind of story as well, and perhaps even set in Saltha with characters we meet in this history. But I'd still encourage you to continue with the fantasy travelogue.

----
Is this sort of story (Fantasy Travelogue?) interesting? Or do I need something more to this (an actual plot with adventure, intrigue or something)?
Well, I find it interesting! But I like reading travel literature, whether historical or fictional.
The characters feel a bit flat, like this is more of an outline than a story. I guess I need to think more about their personalities and how that works into the story.
This is true, but you've got a start anyway!
Does the whole "being dressed" thing make sense? They have it built as a taboo to talk to dressed kids, because of what it represents, but wouldn't they easily accept it as an exception since he's an outsider, and adults would tell them it's okay? I want there to be cultural conflicts, but this feels a bit artificial.
It does, once it's explained. "Clothed people" are busy and doing some kind of work or chore or duty and mustn't be disturbed. How this becomes a tabu, I don't know. Maybe the kids playing ball (where being clothed is explained) are confused. Yes, some clearer explanation of what's going on will be in order!
I feel like the issue with clothing needs to be resolved one way or the other, but how?
It seems to me that Zach comes from a culture where clothing is obligatory at all times. Naturally, he's going to have a difficult time adjusting if he can't learn to strip off in public, and especially when girls as well as boys are involved (as we see in the bath house). He does bewail his not fitting in, even though he has made one friend at least and some other kids are interested in him. He's going to have to learn how to 'go native' a bit in order to fit in. You call him a "boy of two worlds", and that means he's probably going to undergo a kind of "tribal naturalisation" process among the Salthans. Right now in this story he's too foreign for his peers to readily accept him -- hence their ignoring him during the game, or at least being unsure quite what to make of him. Mixed signals and all. In the bath, his hang-ups get him into social trouble, perhaps insulting the daughter of an important family. All sorts of growing up and integrational adventures await Zack, and his friend Lail!
Would it make sense that next time he plays ball strips down in the relative privacy of the enclosed yard? He'd of course feel a bit embarrassed, but try his best to get used to it, and kind of take part in the cultural norm? Would someone growing up for around 8 years in a culture that strongly has a nudity taboo do that? It feels a bit weird to me.
It will be something for him to overcome. He's going to have to talk with Lail and Lail is going to have to help him understand. Eventually, yes, he is going to have to learn to dress the way his adopted culture dresses in order to fit in. As with all things, he'll have to learn to accept and adapt. It's like a nine year old who grows up in Nigeria and emigrates to the UK -- lots of new things to learn, habits to imitate, culture to assimilate. Humans do it all the time, and we're pretty good at it!
If he does, what would his father do if he found out? In a way they came to experience the culture first hand, but there would be things he still would disagree with morally. I think from the sort of culture he comes from, he'd be fairly conservative when it comes to modesty, and it would be something he'd want his son to keep, but of course respecting the Salthans different culture.
Yep. Surprise, Dad! You've got a little half-Salthan son there! In so far as Zack is growing up in a foreign culture, his father will also undoubtedly experience his own kind of cultural adjustment. Now, he at least has the excuse of clothing = busy at ones tasks to hide behind! He can always remain clothed, even if in Salthan dress, as part of his cultural and official ambassadorial duties without question it would seem. Zack won't be quite so lucky. He seems to be rather adventurous, and will I think given enough time and exposure, eventually go a little more native than his father will like. He is "of two worlds" after all!
So would he tell him not to do that again? Would he, understanding the difficulty of fitting in allow it, but tell him he expects him to keep this within the bath houses and enclosed yards (i.e. not go running on the streets naked)?
It may be a while before he really takes notice, and I'm sure he will probably issue some sort of injunction along those lines. But as Zack grows up Salthan, I suspect he will probably rebel more and more against the long distant human culture norms his father represents. You do say, later on: "It had been so long, and when I saw (humans), I couldn't help but feel they looked strange." Clearly Zack is acculturating, and probably quite a lot by this time. I would not be surprised if Zack and his father don't end up quarreling over cultural issues the way children of immigrants seek full participation in the broad culture around them while their parents may sometimes continue to cling to the old ways.

Whatever you decide, keep working at it, and keep us updated!

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Re: Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

Post by Foolster41 » 23 Dec 2015 05:30

Thanks for the feedback! You bring up some good thoughts on this.

Yeah, some of those plot points of an intrigue elements, like with a royalist conspiracy has occurred to me, but I kind of feel like I'd rather focus on a smaller focus with this story. I'll probably have at least a little conflict with kids resenting him for being conquerors, feeling like their being punished in a way through a (albeit smaller) occupation even though they did the work of removing the tyrant.

I guess what I'm wanting for the nudity thing is a compromise.

I feel like kids when told a rule to not do something (under obvious cohesion of punishment) when told that there's an exception will accept that exception if it's easy.

I feel like, there's no reason why this exception wouldn't be obvious and given for Zach (he's an outsider, so the rules of customs don't apply, even if this is the only rule we've known so far, and there's no reason why the adults wouldn't say so), but I guess it's a matter of plot convince. if they just accept that exception, then the conflict disappears!

IDK, maybe the adults wouldn't even consider it a problem, but I have a hard time believing that it wouldn't occur to them.

At the same time, I feel like a boy used to clothing, in a culture like ours (western, specifically american, I know nudity is somewhat less a big deal in Europe) wouldn't ever accept being naked in public, much less in front of girls. I know at least for me, I'd never do it, so I have a hard time accepting Zach doing this. I guess this is the opposite, where I have an unresolvable conflict.

I tried to find some examples of this, a non-fictional account of a person (preferably a child of a similar age) from a clothed culture moving to a naked culture and learning to adapt, stripping off their clothes and "going native" but I'm having a hard time finding any. Generaly this never happens with missionaries or anthropologists, since they are expected to stay, somewhat as cultural outsiders.

In short, I want there to actually be a conflict, but I don't see how it can be resolved in any way, so maybe you're right about acceptance, that Zach is going to have eventually strip down and get used to- somehow- being naked in front of people and "go native". Not sure I really like that though.

The conflict with his father is interesting actually, in a way that you bring up that I hadn't thought of. Here the father brings his son to the culture, and to some extent expects him to follow aspects of the culture, that the son isn't too happy about even (the spanking incident in chapter 1), but is shocked when his son actually goes a little further than expected. He finds out his son has exposed himself this way, and they argue about this.

Like I said, I see the dad as being fairly conservative, while not being judgmental of the culture, and I feel like he'd react as many parents would act if they found out their child had been intentionally naked in front of others, particularly the opposite sex - horrified and a bit angry. I feel like he'd lean towards just saying don't do it again, and say "give it time, they'll get over that exception", and keep saying it, even over years of no change.

I just don't see someone from that worldview accepting such a compromise (privately naked), though maybe after years of seeing no change, and realizing this is the norm for the land they are in, he would.

I want to keep working on this, but I feel a bit stuck for types of interactions. I need to probably go back and work on character more first anyway.

Again, thanks for the feedback. More thoughts on this is welcome!

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Re: Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

Post by elemtilas » 24 Dec 2015 01:11

Foolster41 wrote:Thanks for the feedback! You bring up some good thoughts on this.

Yeah, some of those plot points of an intrigue elements, like with a royalist conspiracy has occurred to me, but I kind of feel like I'd rather focus on a smaller focus with this story. I'll probably have at least a little conflict with kids resenting him for being conquerors, feeling like their being punished in a way through a (albeit smaller) occupation even though they did the work of removing the tyrant.
That's fine -- those other elements can certainly bubble away in the background.
I guess what I'm wanting for the nudity thing is a compromise.

I feel like kids when told a rule to not do something (under obvious cohesion of punishment) when told that there's an exception will accept that exception if it's easy.
What do you mean by "compromise" here?

In my experience (as a former child myself), what usually happens when a rationally thinking adult says to under no circumstances do something the child will immediately go off and do just that thing. Especially when it's a thing same-age-friends are doing or when it's a cultural norm and the kid wants to participate.
I feel like, there's no reason why this exception wouldn't be obvious and given for Zach (he's an outsider, so the rules of customs don't apply, even if this is the only rule we've known so far, and there's no reason why the adults wouldn't say so), but I guess it's a matter of plot convince. if they just accept that exception, then the conflict disappears!
Well, this is spoken like someone whose culture is very flexible and accommodating of other ways (i.e., Western culture!). Try going to Saudi and wear your "I Love Pope Francis" t-shirt in public. You'll find out very quickly all about "exceptions" made for foreigners. This might be helpful: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advic ... nd-customs. Based on how the kids react to Zack's (innocently) insulting behaviour, I get the feeling that Saltha is itself a pretty "conservative" culture as well! If Zack wants to fit in, well, he'll have to learn to get over his imported brand of conservative culture and adapt to a different one.
IDK, maybe the adults wouldn't even consider it a problem, but I have a hard time believing that it wouldn't occur to them.
Perhaps the adults don't really mind -- but kids are funny creatures. Things mature people just don't see as an issue can be and often are inflated to exaggerated proportions by the young. This is normal for humans. It may be normal for Salthans as well.
At the same time, I feel like a boy used to clothing, in a culture like ours (western, specifically american, I know nudity is somewhat less a big deal in Europe) wouldn't ever accept being naked in public, much less in front of girls. I know at least for me, I'd never do it, so I have a hard time accepting Zach doing this. I guess this is the opposite, where I have an unresolvable conflict.
As with all things cultural, it takes time to acculturate. At eight (or so), he's also still at an age where these kinds of things are easier to get accustomed to. He won't have the same long-ingrained cultural baggage his father has. He'll also be alone if he doesn't and probably does not want to be alone.
In short, I want there to actually be a conflict, but I don't see how it can be resolved in any way, so maybe you're right about acceptance, that Zach is going to have eventually strip down and get used to- somehow- being naked in front of people and "go native". Not sure I really like that though.
Well, there's also this: how much conflict can there really be in an otherwise normal eight or ten year old's life?

I think any conflict here is going to be primarily internal. In all honesty, his father may grumble and try to put a stop to it, but in the end I just don't think he will be able to offer any kind of effective deterrent.
The conflict with his father is interesting actually, in a way that you bring up that I hadn't thought of. Here the father brings his son to the culture, and to some extent expects him to follow aspects of the culture, that the son isn't too happy about even (the spanking incident in chapter 1), but is shocked when his son actually goes a little further than expected. He finds out his son has exposed himself this way, and they argue about this.
Indeed. Eventually, though, any conflict is going to have to go beyond just that. Really, this is like a Pakistani family moving to the UK and the girl says: I'm in the UK now, I'm going to take this damn hood off and act more like other British girls. Here, you can see the argument is going to get all cultural & paternalistic. With Zack and his father, what else beyond ordinarily acceptable nudity will they become conflicted over? In a couple years, perhaps he'll take a liking to that girl bath house?...
Like I said, I see the dad as being fairly conservative, while not being judgmental of the culture, and I feel like he'd react as many parents would act if they found out their child had been intentionally naked in front of others, particularly the opposite sex - horrified and a bit angry. I feel like he'd lean towards just saying don't do it again, and say "give it time, they'll get over that exception", and keep saying it, even over years of no change.
Well, that's kind of expected of youngish kids anyway. Fewer inhibitions and so forth.
I just don't see someone from that worldview accepting such a compromise (privately naked), though maybe after years of seeing no change, and realizing this is the norm for the land they are in, he would.
To me at least, it seems like it would be a bigger deal for the father.
I want to keep working on this, but I feel a bit stuck for types of interactions. I need to probably go back and work on character more first anyway.
Sure. One thing I'd say here is that your main character is about 8 or 10 years old. There really aren't going to be many types of interaction open to him: home (with the host family), school, public places children might be expected, homes of others. He's not really involved in the adult world of either the adult Salthans not his father. Now, if he were 1 to 18 at the start of the story and expected to participate more fully with his father's work and he decided to go all native, then I could see room for a more serious disagreement with father. Could also see a greater likelihood of conflict with Salthans in general if he's of age and continues to resist cultural norms.

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Re: Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

Post by Foolster41 » 24 Dec 2015 01:53

elemtilas wrote:
What do you mean by "compromise" here?

In my experience (as a former child myself), what usually happens when a rationally thinking adult says to under no circumstances do something the child will immediately go off and do just that thing. Especially when it's a thing same-age-friends are doing or when it's a cultural norm and the kid wants to participate.
I mean from a story perspective, some way that they meet in the middle where the issue is not immediately dismissed, but is resovled without Zack having to be nude and keep his culture.

I wasn't very clear, but I was talking specificly compramise from the Salthan perspective. Their told not to talk to clothed kids, but it feels like they'd understand the excpetioin. I think it really depends aobut doing the opposite on what it is whether they immediately do the opposite.
Well, this is spoken like someone whose culture is very flexible and accommodating of other ways (i.e., Western culture!). Try going to Saudi and wear your "I Love Pope Francis" t-shirt in public. You'll find out very quickly all about "exceptions" made for foreigners. This might be helpful: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advic ... nd-customs. Based on how the kids react to Zack's (innocently) insulting behaviour, I get the feeling that Saltha is itself a pretty "conservative" culture as well! If Zack wants to fit in, well, he'll have to learn to get over his imported brand of conservative culture and adapt to a different one.
Maybe, though I feel like this is somewhat different because this isn't involving a religious aspect, but something a child wouldn't necessarily want to do anyway but is imposed. I feel like I havn't really be explaining this well. They'd like to talk to their clothed friends, even if their not supposed to. For example, "don't eat cookies before dinner", if a kid doesn't eat cookies before dinner it's not because he wouldn't want to, but to avoid consequences (punishment).
Perhaps the adults don't really mind -- but kids are funny creatures. Things mature people just don't see as an issue can be and often are inflated to exaggerated proportions by the young. This is normal for humans. It may be normal for Salthans as well.
True, I guess they don't directly have to deal with this rule, so I could see how it'd be overlooked.
As with all things cultural, it takes time to acculturate. At eight (or so), he's also still at an age where these kinds of things are easier to get accustomed to. He won't have the same long-ingrained cultural baggage his father has. He'll also be alone if he doesn't and probably does not want to be alone.
True, he's been used to the norm of clothes for a shorter time.
Well, there's also this: how much conflict can there really be in an otherwise normal eight or ten year old's life?

I think any conflict here is going to be primarily internal. In all honesty, his father may grumble and try to put a stop to it, but in the end I just don't think he will be able to offer any kind of effective deterrent.
True about being internal, and I remember at that age, things often seemed much worse than they really were, and is an intersting thing I should work into this story.
To me at least, it seems like it would be a bigger deal for the father.
Well yeah, but that doesn't mean it wouln't be not nearly a big deal for the kid. Like I think I said, thinking back to when I was that age, I don't see how I'd ever accept it. Heck, I was shy about being nude (like at public showers) in front of other guys, just because I was really shy. Zack is really partly a sort of experiment of putting myself in his shoes, asking what if I was a kid going to this new world? I guess that's part of my objectiom, I just don't see even 8 year old me doing this, but maybe I need to for the sake of the story divorce that, and make the character different than me.
Sure. One thing I'd say here is that your main character is about 8 or 10 years old. There really aren't going to be many types of interaction open to him: home (with the host family), school, public places children might be expected, homes of others. He's not really involved in the adult world of either the adult Salthans not his father. Now, if he were 1 to 18 at the start of the story and expected to participate more fully with his father's work and he decided to go all native, then I could see room for a more serious disagreement with father. Could also see a greater likelihood of conflict with Salthans in general if he's of age and continues to resist cultural norms.
I assume when you said "1 to 18" a number over 10, like 16, right? I like the idea of him starting at a younger age, and growing up, letting me go through the stages of life in this new world. Also, the nudity taboo wouldn't really apply as much anwyay at an older age, except for the bath house. I guess I didn't mention, kids 10 and over are always dressed, because they hit puberty and are considered "uagi" or "in-between" childhood and adulthood. Also thus much of the problem wouldn't even apply to his father anyway.

This is an interesting discussion!

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Re: Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

Post by Foolster41 » 08 Sep 2016 23:04

I've been working on this more, and did an update. (Though I got rid of chapter 1 for now)

I was thinking Zack would be wanting to take part in a sort of painfuil coming of age ceremony (10 licks with a short whip across teh bare bottom), which would make him an "Uagi", and would solve the issues with clothing (Uagi are supposed to wear clothes all the time, so the kids would treat him as normal even dressed)

But, I think a kid would be pretty hesitant to get whipped, and I feel like even with the sort of isolatioin, he'd be hesitant. What do people think?

Originally I was thinking he would take part of the ceremony as a sort of sacrificial thing where he was taking some of the punishment for Laila.

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Re: Boy of two worlds (Fiction)

Post by Foolster41 » 10 Sep 2016 05:11

Added last part of chapter 5, and chapter 6.

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