Summary Of The Nacirema Tribe

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The author Horace Miner expresses his understanding of the psyche behind the unique yet horrible body rituals among the Nacirema tribe. According to anthropologists, human behavior is highly unpredictable and diverse, and different people react differently even under the same conditions. In this essay, Miner’s basic storyline is this very fact: upto what extremes can the human behavior endure. The main idea that he wants to express is not the horror of some body rituals among the Nacirema tribe, but the reason why and under which circumstances this tribe endures such rituals. He tries to understand this exotic custom to see the extremes of human behavior. Here, the social, political and cultural context, as well as, aptness of this essay …show more content…

They are believed to migrate from the east, long ago. Though this tribe has a considerably well-organized economic culture, its unique ceremonial and body rituals make it a curious tribe to study. Socially, it is a close-nit group. The people of this tribe believe in the ugliness and frailty of human body, and follow a set of body rituals, often horrible, to avert the debility of human body. All the Nacirema have at least one “shrine” in their houses to follow these body rituals. The most powerful men in this tribe are the “medicine men,” “holy mouth-men,” and the “listener” in that order. Usually, most of the mouth and bathing rituals are performed at the home-shrines, and known ailments are treated with the charms and magical concoctions kept inside a chest in those shrines. However, every one or two years they visit a holy-mouth-man for performing rituals that are often horribly painful to avoid the decay of teeth. Irony is that most of these procedures or rituals themselves cause the tooth-decay. For instance, Miner states that “if there are no naturally occurring holes in the teeth, large sections of one or more teeth are gouged out so that the supernatural substance can be applied” (p. 181). This fact leaves every sensible human to explore how the fear of losing something can push people to endure such

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