AndrewMarantz Use of Irony in My Summer at an Indian Call Center
AndrewMarantz, MySummer at an Indian Call Center, bringsinto perspective the problems that affect human beings due prejudiceand judgmental thinking on the basis of the class, ethnicity, andrace. Marantz brings out the theme using irony as hi rhetoricalstrategy. The stereotypical labeling of people from differentcountries at the call center uses is mostly ironical. Americans andAustralians get the harshest treatment from a stereotypical point ofview, but the labels are ironical in every sense. The call centerimposes a behavioral code on employees that is based on the‘’desirable” mannerisms of countries they look down upon. While Australians are portrayed as backward and racist and Americansdepicted not as advanced as they always try to portray themselves,the same call center is distrustful of the Indian local cultures bytrying to force its staff to speak in an American accent. The ironiesin Marantz’s article are a product of cultural alienation frompervasive corporate cultures that seek to diminish foreign culturesoverseas.
Marantzevokes deep concern about the importance of language not only indetermining one’s identity, but also in symbolizing it. Languagereveals a lot about a person’s social history. In this case,social history is largely defined by belonging to a range of socialgroups. Membership to social groups significantly shapes the identityof individuals. For instance, speaking Hindu, especially with astrong original accent vitally tells a lot about one’s associationwith Indian culture. Most importantly, the language one speaks is anexpression of their rich culture and heritage that developed overtime. Marantz article deplores the idea that adopting a westernculture through altering the way one speaks in a way that demeansone’s language, is a derogation to one’s culture and byextension, one’s identity.
Thefact that cultural alienation was the only way towards a better jobat the call center in India’s reveals incredible irony. Marantz userhetorical prose intends portray western culture as one that isrevered for commercial purposes as a result of globalization andoutsourcing by the same western corporations. Marantz questions theway western culture is packaged by using irony as well. In otherwords, rather than letting other cultures from across the world towillingly learn about western culture languages such as English, itis imposed on them using the tag of work or employment.Accordingto Marantz, the result is hate and a wrong perception of westernculture. People come to understand Americans and other westerncountries as domineering and wanting to impose their culture on otherpeople rather than let them learn it willingly. For instance, Marantzwrites at the end of the short story that,
“Ina sense, Arjuna is too westernized to be happy in India. He speakswith an American accent, listens to American rock music, and suffersfrom American-style malaise. In his more candid moments, he admitsthat life would have been easier if he had hewn to the traditionalIndian path. "I spent my youth searching for the real me,"he says. "Sometimes I feel that now I`ve destroyed anything thatis the real me, that I am floating somewhere in between."(Marantz4)
Inthe context of Marantz article, Arjuna is supposed to be the mostsuccessful among the workmates he met at the call center while inIndia. However, it turns out that Arjuna is not the happiest and theothers who only learned about speak with “right” accent later intheir lives so as to earn jobs at the call center improved when theymoved away from the call center. Marantz portrays his friends he metin India as having moved on from pervasive culture alienation theyfaced at the calling center. Arjuna seems stuck at the call centerpossibly because he is more westernized than his colleagues. Onewould expect that the training that compels employees at the callcenter to drop their local accents would have led to a better life,but it only alienates them from their heritage.
Marantzalso uses irony to reflect the realities that emanate from a deeperunderstanding of others. Through his rhetorical prose, it is evidentthat Marantz intends to show the reader that the western cultures andadmiration that people from other cultures have about them oftenturns out to be different when they have a deeper interaction withpeople from western cultures or when they get more knowledge aboutthem. Nishant dreams about living in California based what he knowsabout America through the films that depicted everyone as having aflashy car and a good life. He faces the reality when he calls aTennessee woman who cannot settle her hospital bill of $400. Marantzwrites,
“Growingup in rural Haryana, Nishant got his picture of the world from grainySylvester Stallone movies on a neighbor`s TV. Like all the boys inhis village, he dreamed of living in California. "It was awonderland to me, where no kid goes hungry, where everyone has thosefast cars, those red-colored Ford Mustangs,"”(Marantz2). However, Nishant’s remarks that Americans are not way theyportray themselves to the world. They are just too smart at it.
Inconclusion, the ironies in Marantz article are a product of culturalalienation from pervasive corporate cultures that seek to diminishforeign cultures overseas. Marantz demonstrates through his articlethat western culture is not well-packaged. Even those who benefitfrom it loathe it due to its portrayal as hegemonic. It is evidentthat Marantz is rooting for a change of strategy. Western culturesshould not domineer but work with other cultures because that wouldbe the true reflection of American ideals.
Marantz,Andrew. "‘My summer at an Indian call center." MotherJones, July 5 (2011).