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Stories from five continent deal with an intricate
matter which is the cultural encounter in many aspects religion, nature, social
integration with other societies in terms of class, education, life philosophy…Etc.
the distant past also speaks about cultural encounters and focuses on how people’s
entrenched believes and temperament could change due to those encounters in
positive ways as being able to learn from others culture way of life and ease
the integration in new society, however, it shows negative side like the lack
of adaptation, confusion, and misunderstanding.

The cultural encounter in the story
happened during the war, but it also happens with other circumstances for
example education, marriage, using the internet keeping in mind at what level
it may include a group of people in the same country or town or at an
international level.

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Writers wrote about cultural encounters out from their own experiences
which are apparent in their work and Trevor was no different in his story, he
articulated the troubles time in Ireland which led to the separation of the
South and the announcement of the Irish Republic and the decision of the North
to stay with England. William Trevor in his stories deal with the disappointment,
loneliness, misery, and conflict that is accumulated within his characters   






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.














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