Living with Strangers by Siri Hustvedt Essay

909 Words Apr 14th, 2013 4 Pages
Living with strangers

In the text “Living with strangers” Siri Hustvedt discusses the lack of solidarity and the social rules, one may meet in a big city, like New York City.

Siri Hustvedt starts the essay by describing, the big difference she felt, when moving from rural Minnesota to New York City. She begins by briefly describing to the reader, how one was expected to behave, where she grew up. Whenever you encountered someone on the road, whether you knew them or not, you should always greet them. If you didn’t, you would be considered both rude and a snob, which was pretty much the worst thing, you could be in that part of rural Minnesota. Therefore, Siri Hustvedt quickly felt the difference between these two places, when
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Until the last part of the essay she has been very critical, but in the last part she acknowledges the advantages. The fact is that getting involved can have a dangerous outcome, which is proven by Siri Hustvedt’s husband’s anecdote about a man who was threatened on his life, simply by asking another man to put out his cigarette. Sure enough, such a threat is most likely nothing more than that, a threat. However, it is still a verbal attack on someone who broke the urban law. But when Siri Hustvedt moves on to another anecdote, this time with a happy ending, she acknowledges the advantages. Her daughter, Sophie, was riding the subway when suddenly a man announced his undying love for her. She did what was expected of her, and ignored him the best she could, even though she was deeply uncomfortable. Nobody said anything, until the man had gone on the train, and another man broke the silence with a witty comment towards Sophie. This anecdote, as well as for Siri Hustvedt, provides the reader with an alternative to the pretend-it-isn’t-happening-law. This man let her know that there were, in fact, witnesses to the scene, and gave her “a feeling of ordinary human solidarity”, making her feel better.
But this man’s action did not only put a smile on Sophie’s face, he proves Siri Hustvedt’s final point of her essay: These breaches of the pretend-it-isn’t-happening-law might make some feel uneasy, but it also opens up into another understanding of the world. A small part of

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