Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Formation of an Identity

            In this week’s readings of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Theology”, Countee Cullen’s “Tableau” and the first half of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” there is a centralized theme of identity. They also deal with the identity of others. In “Theology” the speaker talks about the identity of others while, “Frankenstein” discusses the identity of the main character and the monster he has created, and “Tableau” focuses on personal identity and how the speaker is perceived by the outside world. In all of the readings, identity poses a conflict for the speaker/narrator.
            In Dunbar’s “Theology” the speaker portrays an identity through Heaven and Hell during the time of slavery. The speaker believes that he is to go to heaven because his “soul doth tell [him] so.” During slavery blacks were deemed not human and had no identity. Although this was a constant struggle for the slaves they still believed and had hope. When the speaker talks about his “neighbors” he is speaking of the whites that owned the slaves. He gives them this identity portrayed through the images of hell.  To him his identity and belief with God is what keeps him going during this time of depression. Eventually they will be freed and will go to Heaven for their faith and loyalty and the whites will go to hell because they mistreated the blacks.
            As for Cullen’s “Tableau” the speaker talks about a black boy and a white boy. With this we see that the speaker is comfortable with his own identity that he can walk through the streets “locked arm in arm.” Like in “Theology” when blacks were not accepted in society, whites that associated with blacks were also not accepted in society. This poses a problem with identity because if one is not comfortable with their own identity they are uncomfortable with the identity they are given by society. The poem refers to identity as a means of acceptance. Without acceptance one cannot form an identity because they do not know who they really are.
            Finally Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a story completely based on identity. Through Victor Frankenstein’s creation of his monster he finds his own identity. The monster also is searching for its own identity when hiding out in the woods. The monster was created purely as a scientific experiment but once created became an actual person. When in the woods the monster becomes intrigued by the communication of the humans he watches through the windows. Through his examination of the humans in the cabin, he learns the ways to communicate and be a true person. He uses their attitudes and actions as a means for identity. Like “Tableau” acceptance in society also plays a role in “Frankenstein” and the formation of an identity.
            In Zen meditation this week I focused a lot on myself and the identity I wanted to create for myself at college. We are suppose to clear our minds to make ourselves better people and along with being a better person comes finding your own identity. For me finding my identity means finding people who accept me for who I am like in tonight's readings. By being accepted by my new friends here at school I can recreate myself to be a different person than I was in high school. Zen Meditation has helped me find my inner peace and find my identity and who I really want to be in college.
            Through all of the night’s readings we get a sense of identity. Identity is a huge part of all us. The formation of our own identity and how others perceive our identity is also important. “Theology”, “Tableau”, and “Frankenstein” all have a reoccurring theme of identity. For one to find their own identity they need to be accepted by society but more importantly they need to accept themselves. Identity is a huge part of all of our lives because that is the way we associate ourselves in society and how society associates to us. 

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