Stories from five continent deal withcultural encounter through its various aspects religion, nature, socialintegration with other societies in terms of class, education, life philosophy..
.Etc.the distant past also speaks about cultural encounters and focuses on how people’sentrenched believes and temperament could change due to those encounters inpositive ways as being able to learn from others culture way of life and easethe integration in new society, however, it shows negative side like the lackof adaptation, confusion, and misunderstanding.The cultural encounter in the storyhappened during the war, but it also happens with other circumstances forexample education, marriage, using the internet keeping in mind at what levelit may include a group of people in the same country or town or at aninternational level.Writers wrote about cultural encounters outfrom their own experiences which are apparent in their work and Trevor was nodifferent in his story, he articulated the troubles time in Ireland which ledto the separation of the South and the announcement of the Irish Republic andthe decision of the North to stay with England. William Trevor, in his stories,deals with the unhappiness and the struggle that accumulated within his characters.He also never forgets that the human tenets are in constant change during hislife cycle because of his changing nature.
Trevor’s story the distant past speaksabout cultural encounters between people within the same community and itsrelation to religion, politics, and time change which changes tenets and humantemperaments. He displays all those differences that exist around the worldespecially in Ireland and display it in a short story about simple people withdifferent backgrounds although they share the same land (the town), whichreflects the level of awareness that he had toward history and toward thedifferent elements in history and how he shapes characters and circumstances.The narrator of the story is a limitedthird- person narrator. The Middletons lived away from town, Trevordeliberately tries to make them out casters to highlight the differencesbetween the people who lived in town and them in various aspects like differentreligious, political and philosophical beliefs, however, and they were stillrespected as members of the society.William Trevor deals with two periods inthe Irish history time 1921 the Irish war for independence and the troubles timesbetween 1960 and 1971, therefore, the distant past moves between twogenerations the Middleton’s father then his daughter and son, the towner lockedthe Middletons during the time of troubles because they were unionist and thepeople believed that the British army would come and get them out, but they didnot. The Middleton’s stayed in the Catholic town while they were Protestant andbecame respectable members of the society even though the people believed thatthey were peculiar.
The Middletons stated their beliefs publically about thenew political regime which is represented by the republic in some kind ofenmity, but they were tolerated and lived peacefully with others until the timeof troubles, where their behaviors and opinions that seemed peculiar andsometimes funny were not anymore because it revives what happened previouslyand let us not forget that the little town had no profitable economic incomebecause the tourism stopped which fueled anger among the inhabitants. Thatcombination of events illuminates what the writer had lived and how he himself viewsthe distant past. (www.is.muni.cz)The siblings lived in Carraveagh for a longtime, but it was built in the seventeenth century and it is sixty miles awayfrom the border of Northern Ireland.
Their loyalty to the past is manifested inthe arrogance they show toward the history after the new regime and believed thatthe 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 godsave the queen and the ride to town on Elizabeth the second coronation day intheir ford Angelia with a small union jack appeared at the back of their carreveal that they were still loyal and holding on to memories from the distantpast.
The father mortgaged the house because he spent his money on a CatholicDublin woman whom they believed to be unworthy and blamed her for the declinein their economic situation after 1921. This represented the decline of theirascendant financial status after 1921, however, they still behave with superioritytoward the way they were brought up, and consequently toward others. This indicatesthat they are conscious about the differences they saw in other people in contrastwith themselves, on the other side the people also realized these contrasts andthought that they were peculiar and funny treated them with tolerance until thetroubles for example when Mr. Healy mentioned the event of blowing up thesub-post offices and the Middleton told Mr. Carnely and Mr. Healy that they donot want anything to do with it in the first place.(ibid)The Friday and Sunday visits to purchasegoods or to pray represent the change of the town as in grocery store ,thehotel, and the tourism, it also reflects changes in people, the butcher whogrew old and would like to retire, the Middleton’s dog who grew old and die representedfellowship even their entrenched beliefs changed overtime and they wereconsidered as an anachronism or absurd, for instance the new reverend Bradshawconsidered them to be silly, furthermore in some points the distant past speaksabout the cultural encounter between generations starting with the Middletonsthemselves and tourist ending up with the youngsters in the town like thereverend, moreover, the story speaks loud about how people react to culturalencounter either by tolerance or violence and those visits explained howbehaviors considered being acceptable at some period of time will not be anymore,which is reflected in Middleton’s removal of symbols that represent theirtemperament and expectations. Theconstant analogy between the past and the present and traveling forward andbackward in the story helped the reader to understand and may sympathize withthe Middleton at the end of the story.
It also reflects the emergence of new culturesand how old cultures could be revived and relived in certain circumstances atcertain times and how people could change from enemies to friends and viceversa reflecting the nature of the human being and how he is constructed by theinner and outer effects which have a great ramification on our present andpast.William Trevor in his distant past gave avoice and a space to speak about what he lived, saw, and felt in a part of theIrish history and relived it again through the loneliness, sadness and hopes ofhis characters and allow the curtains of his imagination to open up trying tomake us feel what he wants to say through the course of the story.