Sample Essay on Body Ritual among the Nacirema Worksheet

    1. Describe a behavior you consider to be “extreme.” Might others disagree with you?

    A community that chooses the spouse for an individual is an example of an extreme behavior. African communities have a tradition of choosing a marriage partner for the member. The individual’s family is responsible in choosing his or her marriage partner. I consider this behavior as extreme because I believe the individual should have a right to choose his or her marriage partner. Other people might disagree with this idea because some people believe that the individual’s family should be involved in this decision.

    1. What is magic? Does it exist? Explain.

    Magic is the extraordinary power over natural forces. Magic exists depending with the individual’s believe of such powers. Some societies have a strong believe that magic exists and to their own world such forces seem to exist.

    1. Where do the Nacirema reside?

    The Nacirema community is a North American group that resides between the Yaqui, Canadian Cree and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles. Traditionally it is believed that the originated from the east.

    1. Define “ritual.”

    A ritual is a described procedure or a system or a collection of religious rites followed by a specific community or society.

    1. According to #4, is this statement true for the Nacirema? “While much of the people’s time is devoted to economic pursuits, a large part of the fruits of these labors and a considerable portion of the day are spent in ritual activity. The focus of this activity is the human body…”

    The statement about Nacirema is true because the community is mostly focused on their human body, health and the appearance. The society believes that the human body is ugly and it is characterized by disease. Thus their only hope is to avert these human characteristics by the use of powerful rituals and ceremonies.

    1. What is the shrine (pp.503-4)? What do the Nacirema do there?

    A shrine is a place or a structure that is devoted for a spiritual purpose and sacred relics. Every house in the Nacirema society has a shrine that is devoted for the purpose of averting the human characteristics of debility and disease through the use of powerful influences of ritual and ceremony.

    1. “Holy-mouth-men.” Who are they?

    These are magical practitioners who are believed to have supernatural influences on all the social relationships.

    1. “…a small bundle of hog hairs into the mouth”?? Explain.

    It is a daily body ritual that is performed by everyone. The community is so punctilious about the caring for the mouth and the ritual strikes the uninitiated stranger as a revolting ritual.

    1. “latipso”??

    Latipso is an imposing temple that where elaborate ceremonies of treating very sick patients are performed. The process involves a permanent group of vestal maidens who are dressed in costume and headdress.

    1. “…one other kind of practitioner, known as a ‘listener.’” This is?

    The listener is a witch-doctor who possesses the powers of performing exorcism rituals to the devils that lodge in the minds of the patients who have been bewitched. The Nacirema community believes that sometimes parents bewitch their own children and mothers are mostly suspected for this act.

    1. In closing the article, the author quotes, Malinowski, who wrote (1948:70),Looking from far and above, from our high places of safety in the developed civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevanceof magic. But without its power and guidance early man could not have mastered his practical difficulties as he has done, nor could man have advanced to the higher stages of civilization.” Why this quote?

    Magic from the article has proved that it does not exist. The patients who visit the ‘latipso’ do not often always make it alive. The medical rituals performed in the temple fail. This inability of magic has assisted human being to advance to better methods that will help to solve such gaps in the community. Man has had no other choice but to advance to advance to higher stages of civilization that will assist him in facing the challenges of life.

    12 Why publish this article?

    This article assists us into discovering that extreme behaviors are those behaviors that seem strange to us just because we have not had a chance to experience them. The Nacirema community continues to follow these rituals besides that such magic does not always work in situations of treating diseases. Such a ritual can be named as extreme since very few at the present time follow such rituals.

    1. Why are we reading it?

    The article is an example of a belief that people continue to observe till this present time. The article teaches us about the different types of extreme behaviors that people follow no matter how successful the rituals fail to become.


    Works Cited

    Horace, Miner. Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. 1956.