The between people within the same community and its


The language is one of the greatest human inventions and the different
languages associated with divergent circumstances like nature, religion, age,
gender led to having a diversity of cultures around the world. Traveling,
immigration, colonization, gender, marrying to people with other languages, education,
and currently the omnipresent revolution technology that facilitates communication
between people, however, cultural encounters can also happen even within the
same country, city or even in the same town as what happened in the story of
William Trevor the distant past.

 Cultural encounters focus on the
way cultures transforms by these encounters. (www, It may leads to
confusion and the inability to understand others beliefs and background ,but it
still lead to  positive sides like
meeting other people, learning from them, trying to understand their
background, integrating into a larger society and understanding the richness of
their art, literature, industry…etc. of others.(

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The cultural diversity is a consequence of the different natures, beliefs,
and religions, interactions, and philosophies of people which form a diversity
of traditions that affect every aspect of their lives.

 Writers wrote about cultural encounters out
from their own experiences which are apparent in their work and William Trevor
was no different, he was an Irish writer, he was articulate about the times of
troubles between the Protestant, the landlords and the Catholics which finally ended
with establishing the Irish Republic in the South and the protestant stayed with
Britain in the North. His settings were in Ireland or England where he tries to
focus on the middle and the lower class communities who suffer from loneliness,
disappointment, and fear and how they change by time and circumstances, furthermore,
their culture, religion and conflict.(







Trevor’s story the distant past speaks about cultural encounters between
people within the same community and its relation to religion, politics, and
time change which changes tenets and human temperaments. He displays all those
differences that exist around the world especially in Ireland and display it in
a short story about simple people with different backgrounds although they
share the same land (the town), which reflects the level of awareness that he
had toward history and toward the different elements in history and how he
shapes characters and circumstances.

The narrator of the story is a limited third- person narrator. The Middletons
lived away from town, Trevor deliberately tries to make them out casters to
highlight the differences between the people who lived in town and them in
various aspects like different religious, political and philosophical beliefs,
however, and they were still respected as members of the society.

William Trevor deals with two periods in the Irish history time 1921 the
Irish war for independence and the troubles times between 1960 and 1971, therefore,
the distant past moves between two generations the Middleton’s father then his daughter
and son, the towner locked the Middletons during the time of troubles because
they were unionist and the people believed that the British army would come and
get them out, but they did not. The Middleton’s stayed in the Catholic town while
they were Protestant and became respectable members of the society even though
the people believed that they were peculiar. The Middletons stated their
beliefs publically about the new political regime which is represented by the republic
in some kind of enmity, but they were tolerated and lived peacefully with
others until the time of troubles, where their behaviors and opinions that seemed
peculiar and sometimes funny were not anymore because it revives what happened
previously and let us not forget that the little town had no profitable
economic income because the tourism stopped which fueled anger among the
inhabitants. That combination of events illuminates what the writer had lived
and how he himself views the distant past. (

The siblings lived in Carraveagh for a long time, but it was built in
the seventeenth century and it is sixty miles away from the border of Northern Ireland.
Their loyalty to the past is manifested in the arrogance they show toward the
history after the new regime and believed that the new regime will end, but
time proved them wrong. The cross of St. George, their father portrait, the way
they rise on their feet when the BBC play god save the queen and the ride to
town on Elizabeth the second coronation day in their ford Angelia with a small
union jack appeared at the back of their car reveal that they were still loyal
and holding on to memories from the distant past. The father mortgaged the
house because he spent his money on a Catholic Dublin woman whom they believed
to be unworthy and blamed her for the decline in their economic situation after
1921. This represented the decline of their ascendant financial status after 1921,
however, they still behave with superiority toward the way they were brought
up, and consequently toward others. This indicates that they are conscious
about the differences they saw in other people in contrast with themselves, on
the other side the people also realized these contrasts and thought that they
were peculiar and funny treated them with tolerance until the troubles for
example when Mr. Healy mentioned the event of blowing up the sub-post offices
and the Middleton told Mr. Carnely and Mr. Healy that they do not want anything
to do with it in the first place.(ibid)

The Friday and Sunday visits to purchase goods or to pray represent the
change of the town as in grocery store ,the hotel, and the tourism, it also
reflects changes in people, the butcher who grew old and would like to retire,
the Middleton’s dog who grew old and die represented fellowship even their
entrenched beliefs changed overtime and they were considered as an anachronism
or absurd, for instance the new reverend Bradshaw considered them to be silly,
furthermore in some points the distant past speaks about the cultural encounter
between generations starting with the Middletons themselves and tourist ending
up with the youngsters in the town like the reverend, moreover, the story
speaks loud about how people react to cultural encounter either by tolerance or
violence and those visits explained how behaviors considered being acceptable
at some period of time will not be anymore, which is reflected in Middleton’s
removal of symbols that represent their temperament and expectations.

 The constant analogy between the
past and the present and traveling forward and backward in the story helped the
reader to understand and may sympathize with the Middleton at the end of the story.
It also reflects the emergence of new cultures and how old cultures could be
revived and relived in certain circumstances at certain times and how people
could change from enemies to friends and vice versa reflecting the nature of
the human being and how he is constructed by the inner and outer effects which
have a great ramification on our present and past.

William Trevor in his distant past gave a voice and a space to speak
about what he lived, saw, and felt in a part of the Irish history and relived
it again through the loneliness, sadness and hopes of his characters and allow
the curtains of his imagination to open up trying to make us feel what he wants
to say through the course of the story.