The Insights Brought to the Personal Identity in Literature
Reading fiction and poems were not always my favorite activities. In the last couple of months, after reading through various poems and stories, introduced to me a wider and unknown perspective of human character, of the disparity of the social class and various forms of love and human relationship at varying levels. These literary works not only introduced me to different writers and their unique styles and genres but also has broadened my vision and introduced new ideas and perspectives to my thought process. From sixteenth century to twentieth century the wide variety of evolution of time, mindset, values etc. is just phenomenal. I will discuss about some of the literary pieces which have affected me the most.
‘If We Must Die’ and ‘Nightfall in Soweto’, the two poems were eye opener for me on the oppression the Blacks went through in the early 1900s (the racism which continues till date but in disguise). In the poem ‘If We Must Die’, the speaker starts off by saying ‘If We Must Die, let it not be like hogs’ trying to encourage his fellow ‘kinsmen’ to fightback for their lives, although they had an ‘open grave’ in front of them. This gave me a great deal of understanding about what went through these helpless people who had no fault and were just a victim of the superiority of the whites who merely treated them as human beings. By reading this poem I could also understand that the no matter how strong the opposition we must stand for what is our right and defy the fear of defeat, even when the chances of losing is almost definite.
The second poem which was quite an eye opener for me was ‘Nightfall in Soweto’ by Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali. In this poem the speaker is talking about the reckless nights faced by the black population in the southwestern town in South Africa. Before reading this poem I barely had any idea about South Africa being invaded by the Europeans (Portuguese) although growing up I had always heard stories about Nelson Mandela and how he was in imprisoned for 27 years but after reading this poem and doing further research about the events I was really touched by what went down there and could visualize thanks to the visual imagery like; “barks like a rapid dog,’ ‘crunching footsteps,’ ‘deafening knock at the door,’ used by the speaker in the poem.
Three other poems which I had great pleasure of reading and further analyzing were William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18”,“Sonnet 116” and Andrew Marvel’s “To His Coy Mistress.” Thanks to the poems I am more knowledgeable about different perspectives of love. In the two Shakespearean sonnets mentioned above the speaker expressed platonic love towards his lover. Although it was initially hard for me to understand the language as a lot of words were ancient English words. However after extensive research, I could finally understand that true love is love where the souls of the two loved ones play a much bigger role than the body.
The next poem I will talk about is Andrew Marvel’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ here the speaker is trying to express his sexual desire by also mentioning the significance of time and what romantic gestures he would make only if he had enough time. Even though the speaker’s main purpose is to persuade his mistress, he is still able to use the literature he has to make clear of the importance of time.
The two poems with same titles “America” gave me an inward look at a country where most people aspire to live in, where people want to go and live “The American Dream” of wealth and comfort. But in reality America is not all glittery, it has its dark history of oppressed blacks and racism. Both the poems address the wealth which America possess but also talks about the inequality which prevails till now in the country creating disparity amongst the elite and commoners.
Then, I am going to be moving on to the short stories. First, the “Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin which initially gave me a true definition of an unhappy marriage, as Mrs. Mallard was overjoyed by the news of her husband’s death in a tragic train accident. However, after reading the story several times I couldn’t come to any conclusion as at the ending of the story the narrator stated that Mrs. Mallard died of ‘Joy that kills.’ Therefore, it was hard for me to actually judge Mrs. Mallard’s character and also as very little information was provided in the story about Mr. Mallard, I was not able to come to a conclusion of whether Mrs. Mallard actually died of joy or fear of being in control of her husband again.
Next is “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood which focuses on a different subject, is a story which gave me great deal of understanding about the ideal endings that we often get to see in movies, stories or novels. In reality, we never wonder whether all endings are actually happy or not. Again, if endings were always happy, wouldn’t the world be a better place? The story posed a philosophical light on my thoughts, as at the end of the day we all have to die therefore shouldn’t the ideal ending be death rather than ‘happily lived ever after?’.
Moving to the next short story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This story gave me an insight about the cruel world, depicting the complex human mind and character which exploited the broken. In the beginning when I started reading the story it felt as if it was a fairy tale with an imaginary angel character but as I proceeded, I understood that it was deeper and the writer was analyzing the fickle mindedness and ruthlessness of society. This showed me how people can sometimes be so selfish and can end up being inhumane towards another human being.
Then, Richard Wright’s story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” inspired me the most, as I could relate it to my life. This story gave me a lot of insight about how impatient a teenager is about growing up and doing all the big people things and how at times a bad decision might change a person’s life completely. Also, it gave me a reflection of how racism, injustice and humiliation create in satiation and instigates young blood to take up weapons as a means to bring equilibrium in their lives. Next is “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, which taught me how we can sometimes be negligent about our most loved ones and give all our love and affection to someone who is not appreciative of our efforts. It also taught me that life is too short, and it is never late to realize a person’s worth and give them all that they deserve.
In Search of April Raintree moved my core and got me to think how we sometimes become judgmental and form wrong opinions about people without in depth understanding. When I arrived in Winnipeg I was warned about the aboriginals and accordingly I formed my judgement about them. Reading the novel about the tragic story of the unfortunate Raintree sisters made me rethink how fate plays a role in people’s lives and which many a times may lead to tragic ends. The misfortune of the sisters’ stem from their racial origin where their parents are alcoholic, drug addicts and are victims of racism. Cheryl who was a bright, ambitious girl, proud of her ancestry initially could break free from the evil clasp of her background but misfortune followed her and led her to the tragic predicament of suicide. Both April and Cheryl were mere victims of the society’s stereotyping of their native ancestry. This gave me the reasoning that every individual has their own back story and I should learn to get my information from different source.
In all, writing this essay has helped me realize my feelings towards forms of literature and gain understanding of basic things that I never paid attention to. It has also helped me strengthen my thoughts and go into the depth of matters and it has also introduced me to a new world of imaginations and bringing in conclusion especially through the short stories which were mostly open ended.
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Reading fiction and poems were not always my favorite activities. In the last couple of months, after reading through various poems and stories, introduced to me a wider and unknown […]