The human being has an urge to explain everything that happens around them, myths are a way to explain these happenings that can not really be explained or verified with solid proof. As Tuan indicates in chapter 6 “Mythical Space and Place” “They persist because for individuals as well as for groups there will always be areas of the hazily known and of the unknown, and because it is likely that some people will always be driven to understand man’s place in nature in a holistic way.”(86) Telling us that people will try to understand and explain their interaction with each other and their environment. This is the case with Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery”, we see how an isolated village with a small population celebrates this yearly event that is all about violence and death. The way this story portrays the way humans reacts, deals and behave towards violence can be seen on how the whole town has agreed to do this every year and even consider this a tradition “Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery” (Jackson, 250) is what Mr. Warner says as he is explaining the town folks on the importance of this tradition. Also, the way how even Bill, Tessie’s husband, allowed the whole village to stone his wife without an argument like if it was no big deal even though she kept saying “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (Jackson, 252) and how they even let kids be a part of this stoning “The children had stone already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.” (252) it seemed like Tessie was the rational side of the society that we live in now while the village was the brutal and sometimes the real violent face of society nowadays. We are all witness that the censorship that’s used nowadays is not even half of the censorship from 10 years ago, violence it’s slowly being adapted to our society and sooner or later it will have a great impact on all of us. Just like Tuan said in his book about mythical space “spatial component of a world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their personal activities” (86) what Shirley Jackson tried to explain with this story was the myth that more and more violence is being accepted in our society and it is seen like something normal people would do just for a tradition.
In Tuan’s Space and Place chapter six “Spatial ability, knowledge and Place” we encounter new ideas of how society acts and reacts when it comes to dealing with what we are born knowing and what we learn in the process of growing in relation to our space and place. For example, one of Tuan’s best example to define the chapter is “People who are good at finding their way in the city may be poor at giving street directions to the lost, and hopeless in their attempts to draw maps” This tells us that humans behave differently depending on the situation according to each person experience, like your spatial ability is the activities that you can do on a daily basis while your spatial knowledge is the information you record in your brain and gain as you perform these activities, though, its not always the case that you need spatial knowledge to perform spatial ability, one can say that spatial knowledge can be considered as a source to maximize the successfulness of the spatial ability. In the story by Raymond Carver, Cathedral we are told of a couple that gets the visit of an old blind friend named Robert and how the act and react to this fact. In one of the parts of the book we see that in two opportunities the husband explains how he has never had any blind friends and did not know how to act properly around them “I don’t have any blind friends”(95) and also “I’ve never met, or personally known, anyone who was blind.”(97) From Tuan’s perspective we can say that the husband has spatial ability, but lacks spatial knowledge for this specific situation, meaning he has the ability to communicate with other people, which is a daily task; however, he can’t do the same thing with Robert since there is a special condition: he is blind. The lack of knowledge on how to communicate with blind people leads the husband to make mistakes, making his wife mad.
Spaciousness and crowding even thought at first look they seem like two words that have related meanings, they are actually different in the sense that something can be spacious and comfortable for an individual while for another individual the same space can be seen as crowded or uncomfortable. Yi-Fu Tuan helps us understand this confusion by explaining this even further in his book “Space and Place” chapter three. Another book that sets examples about this space and crowd is “Metamorphosis” by Frank Kafka.
In the story Metamorphosis we see that Gregor wakes up one day and he is turned into an insect, this causes a huge commotion into the family and his workplace bringing many problems for everybody. Days passed and the family left Gregor unattended, neglecting him until he finally dies alone in a room. We can take the transformation of Gregor into an insect as a metaphor of spaciousness and crowding, for example before the transformation happened, the house Gregor lived with his family was enough to hold them all, the house was spacious and not crowded for the family members, however, when the family members saw Gregor in his new form of an insect, they started to feel annoyed and felt like the house was overcrowded and it was uncomfortable to live in isolating him and leaving Gregor to die in a lonely room. This is exactly what Yi-Fu Tuan explains in his book, that how a space is seen as spacious or crowded depends on how comfortable the people inhabiting the space feel. For example, I can feel that my room is spacious when I have my best friend in it, but when I have my annoying neighbor over to my room, I can feel that my room is an uncomfortable place to stay, in other words too crowded for me to stay in.
It is not necessary for a places to be called crowded just because the amount of people is high, or a place to be called spacious just because there isn’t a lot of people present on said place. It all depends on the level of conformity that is felt by the individual at the time.
In the story A&P by John Updike, we see how in such a small place like a supermarket there can be many interactions between human beings that can help us understand better the relationship between place and space.
At first glance we are introduced to a guy named Sammy that works at the A&P supermarket as a cashier, the setting of his location as indicated in the book says “Iam in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door” (16) This goes along with what Yi-Fu Tuan says in his chapter two of “Body Personal Relations and Spatial Values” “Frontal space is ‘illuminated’ because it can be seen; back space is ‘dark’ even when the sun shines, simply because it cannot be seen” This foreshadows to what is going to happen at the end of the story, because Sammy’s back is facing the door, he cannot see that his future is going to turn dark and that he is going to end up with no job walking out that door.
We also have the three girls that are wearing bathing suits in a place that’s really not close to a beach making them fall under society norms as not properly dressed. Society as a whole plays an important role when it comes to place and space, in a place like a supermarket there are norms to follow, and by not dressing properly by society norms, the three girls were reproached by the manager of the store, who in this case represents a higher authority of a place.