Stories from five continent deal with an intricatematter which is the cultural encounter in many aspects religion, nature, socialintegration with other societies in terms of class, education, life philosophy…Etc.the distant past also speaks about cultural encounters and focuses on how people’sentrenched believes and temperament could change due to those encounters inpositive ways as being able to learn from others culture way of life and easethe integration in new society, however, it shows negative side like the lackof adaptation, confusion, and misunderstanding.The cultural encounter in the storyhappened during the war, but it also happens with other circumstances forexample education, marriage, using the internet keeping in mind at what levelit may include a group of people in the same country or town or at aninternational level.Writers wrote about cultural encounters out from their own experienceswhich are apparent in their work and Trevor was no different in his story, hearticulated the troubles time in Ireland which led to the separation of theSouth and the announcement of the Irish Republic and the decision of the Northto 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 betweenpeople within the same community and its relation to religion, politics, andtime change which changes tenets and human temperaments. He displays all thosedifferences that exist around the world especially in Ireland and display it ina short story about simple people with different backgrounds although theyshare the same land (the town), which reflects the level of awareness that hehad toward history and toward the different elements in history and how heshapes characters and circumstances.The narrator of the story is a limited third- person narrator.
The Middletonslived away from town, Trevor deliberately tries to make them out casters tohighlight the differences between the people who lived in town and them invarious 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 theIrish 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 daughterand son, the towner locked the Middletons during the time of troubles becausethey were unionist and the people believed that the British army would come andget them out, but they did not. The Middleton’s stayed in the Catholic town whilethey were Protestant and became respectable members of the society even thoughthe people believed that they were peculiar. The Middletons stated theirbeliefs publically about the new political regime which is represented by the republicin some kind of enmity, but they were tolerated and lived peacefully withothers until the time of troubles, where their behaviors and opinions that seemedpeculiar and sometimes funny were not anymore because it revives what happenedpreviously and let us not forget that the little town had no profitableeconomic income because the tourism stopped which fueled anger among theinhabitants. That combination of events illuminates what the writer had livedand how he himself views the distant past.
cz)The siblings lived in Carraveagh for a long time, but it was built inthe 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 thehistory after the new regime and believed that the new regime will end, buttime proved them wrong. The cross of St. George, their father portrait, the waythey rise on their feet when the BBC play god save the queen and the ride totown on Elizabeth the second coronation day in their ford Angelia with a smallunion jack appeared at the back of their car reveal that they were still loyaland holding on to memories from the distant past. The father mortgaged thehouse because he spent his money on a Catholic Dublin woman whom they believedto be unworthy and blamed her for the decline in their economic situation after1921. This represented the decline of their ascendant financial status after 1921,however, they still behave with superiority toward the way they were broughtup, and consequently toward others.
This indicates that they are consciousabout the differences they saw in other people in contrast with themselves, onthe other side the people also realized these contrasts and thought that theywere peculiar and funny treated them with tolerance until the troubles forexample when Mr. Healy mentioned the event of blowing up the sub-post officesand the Middleton told Mr. Carnely and Mr. Healy that they do not want anythingto do with it in the first place.
(ibid)The Friday and Sunday visits to purchase goods or to pray represent thechange of the town as in grocery store ,the hotel, and the tourism, it alsoreflects 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 theirentrenched beliefs changed overtime and they were considered as an anachronismor absurd, for instance the new reverend Bradshaw considered them to be silly,furthermore in some points the distant past speaks about the cultural encounterbetween generations starting with the Middletons themselves and tourist endingup with the youngsters in the town like the reverend, moreover, the storyspeaks loud about how people react to cultural encounter either by tolerance orviolence and those visits explained how behaviors considered being acceptableat some period of time will not be anymore, which is reflected in Middleton’sremoval of symbols that represent their temperament and expectations. The constant analogy between thepast and the present and traveling forward and backward in the story helped thereader 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 berevived and relived in certain circumstances at certain times and how peoplecould change from enemies to friends and vice versa reflecting the nature ofthe human being and how he is constructed by the inner and outer effects whichhave a great ramification on our present and past.William Trevor in his distant past gave a voice and a space to speakabout what he lived, saw, and felt in a part of the Irish history and relivedit again through the loneliness, sadness and hopes of his characters and allowthe curtains of his imagination to open up trying to make us feel what he wantsto say through the course of the story.