Discuss the similarities in social punishment in The Crucible and "Nineteen Thirty- seven."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Miller and Danticat discuss the issue of social punishment as a way to consolidate control on the part of those in the position of power.  Social punishment is seen as a way of silencing "the other."  For Danticat, the accusations made against Joesephine's mother are made because she is different from everyone else.  She fled Trujillo's army, watched the slaughter and mutilation of her mother, and builds a community of those who endured the same predicament by taking them back to the river in performing rituals.  Josephine's mother is viewed as "different" and her imprisonment is a result of this perception.  At the same time, due to her difference, her imprisonment is seen as a form of social punishment, when in reality it is simply to silence a voice different from the cultural and political sources of power.  In Salem, the same predicament is present.  The targets of the witchcraft claims are those who are different from those who are in the positions of power.   Those who are on the fringe of society or merely lower in position such as Tituba or Sarah Good absorb most of the accusations and take the social punishment for being different than the cultural and political norm.  The social punishment of Proctor and Corey are done because they speak out against those in the position of power.  In this light, social punishment is seen in both works as a form of control, a way to maintain the Status Quo and keep voices of dissent or difference silent.

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