The struggle for personal identity Essay
The topic I have chosen for my research essay is that of “Personal Identity”. We have come across this topic in many stories that we have done in the course. Different authors have handled this theme in a different way and by taking a look at this we will be able to see what personal identity means to people. “The relationship between self and society is essentially confrontational and the battleground on which this struggle is fought by identity. Put simply, identity is the perception of self by others, challenged by the social world” (Fontana & Kotarba, 1984, pp.Order now
11). The stories I have chosen to take a look at are “A Wife’s Story” by Bharati Mukherjee’, “Eveline” by James Joyce’, “Going Home” by Archie Weller’, “A Relative Stranger” by Charles Baxter’, “Six Feet of the Country” by Nadine Gordimer’. We will take a look at these stories in the following paragraphs.
In “The Wife’s Story”, the author Bharati Mukherjee’ looks at the theme of Personal Identity in respect to the Indian Culture. The main character in the story, Panna, leaves her family in order to get a Ph.D.
This is seen when she says “I’ve made it. I’m making something of my life. I’ve left home, my husband, to get a Ph.D. in special Ed” (Meyer, 1997, pp. 424) She is exposed to the Western world and is struggling between her Indian identity and the one of the Western World.
She is trying really hard to position herself in this world. She wants to accept the American culture, but at the same time she does not want to lose her Indian ways of thinking. She does not want to follow the traditional customs where the wife stays at home and is either abused by the husband or by her in-laws. Panna’s search for identity can also be seen when her husband comes to visit her from India. He does not like when she dresses up in western clothes and talks to other men. Panna does not approve of her husband’s thinking, but she still wants to make him happy.
With him she wants to pretend that nothing has changed. She knows that things have changed, but she wants to do everything to make him believe otherwise. Therefore she is struggling in the entire story.
The next author whose work we are going to look at is James Joyce’ of “Eveline”. In this story the author has treated the theme of personal identity in respect to the love for families. In the following story, the main character, Eveline, comes from a family where the father is really dominant.
Her mother has died and on the deathbed, Eveline promised her that she would take care of the family. In her mind, she thinks that the only reason she is staying with such her dominant father is because of the promise she made to her mother. She does not want to abandon her family. At the same time she is struggling to form a self identity. She gets a chance to go away from her family and form an identity of her own. She is confused about what to do.
In the end she opts for her family knowing that they love her too and that is where she can be best identified.
Kaluger (1984, pp. 261) says that during the identification phase, children generally respond to people whom they love or who possess some trait or power that they admire. Children gain a sense of security by identifying with an older person whom they love, in whom they have complete confidence and trust.
In Eveline’s case it can be seen that since she was so busy taking care of her father, who abused her, she did not have the time to discover herself. She wanted to go away thinking that she would find her self identity, but in the end she realizes that her identity lies with her family.
The next story we are taking a look at is “Going Home” bye Archie Weller’. The following story is about a young aboriginal man who is returning to him home after spending five years in the white community and gaining .