Language may be the words spoken, gestures, demeanour, visual or image. It is used to transfer the messages within the society. Culture is the understanding of people about the aspects such as traditions, customs and religions. While the identity is a person’s understanding about himself or herself and it is influenced by the culture. In the drama “Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah” written by Alana Valentine, language is used to highlight cultural identity in the aspects as power, conflict and cultural.
Power refers to the authority of a person or a group over the others. People have power due to the hierarchy in the society, in family and in religion. In the drama, aunt Sarrinah has power over Shafana. This is shown in the dialogue “I’m sorry, Shafana, but if you were looking for an adolescent wall of expectations to rebel against, you’re not going to find it here.” The metaphor “adolescent wall of expectations” represents for Shafana’s point of view. However, the direct statement “you’re not going to find it here” indicates that aunt Sarrinah has power over Shafana. It indicates that aunt Sarrinah is affirming her authority to Shafana. In addition, the power in self belief can promote people to achieve their goal. This is indicated in Shafana’s dialogue “Since I put on the cape.” The allusion “cape” is the symbol of empowerment, strength and courage. Thus, Shafana considers that the scarf promotes her to increase her self-confidence. The power in culture could show the authority of a person over another or it can promote a person to achieve his or her goal.
Conflict occurs everyday within the society therefore it is obvious. It is caused by the disagreement between people in every aspect of life as well as the misunderstanding in perspective, language and culture. In the play, there is a conflict between Shafana and her aunt about wearing the hijab. Shafana says to her Sarrinah “I want to put in the hijab.” Her high modality expresses Shafana’s desire to wear the hijab because it represents her faith in God. Also, wearing the scarf may be one of the ways of Shafana to show her identity. Aunt Sarrinah accepts for Shafana to wear the hijab, however, they will be opposed to each other. This is reveals in aunt Sarrinah’s dialogue “You and I are not we anymore.” The pronoun “we” represent for the solidarity between two or more people. Therefore “not we anymore” means that Aunt Sarrinah and Shafana’s relationship has broken and the conflict can’t be solved. The conflict can be solved if we can find a common voice between people. However, in Shafana situation, her and aunt Sarrinah are unable to find a common perspective about wearing the scarf. Hence, conflict is not always can be solved, on the other hand, it could lead to the break down of a relationship.
Cultural can be represented through food, language, clothing, education and religion. It can influence people’s perspective within the society. Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah’s perspectives in the play can clearly be seen as influenced by their culture. Shafana says to aunt Sarrinah “You don’t have to lower yourself to their level” when she discovers her aunt reads the Who Weekly magazine. The figurative language “lower yourself” indicates aunt Sarrinah’s conformity to the Australian social norms. By doing this, she will be able to adapt to the new society. Shafana is influenced by the faith in God. Thus is shown in the dialogue “And now I have been seized with the desire to do something.” The verb “seized” expresses and epiphany of sorts in relation to her religions perspective and sense of self. However, the repetition of aunt Sarrinah as the rhetorical question “Seized?” indicates that her provocative point of view towards Shafana’s perspective. It can be said that each person has their own cultural point of views.
In conclusion, power, conflict and cultural are expressed through the use of language. Therefore, a person with a higher authority also has higher modality in his or her language. The conflict can be caused by the difference in the use of language. The common voice will help us to resolve the conflict otherwise it will still be remained. In addition, cultural perspective of each person is indicated through their uses of language. Differences in cultural perspectives will lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication between people.