Identity: Homelessness and Daniel Heller

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Analytical Essay.

Our identity can be constructed by the experiences and individuals we encounter throughout life. The poems; “The Black Drunkard” by Kevin Gilbert, “African Beggar” by Raymond Tong, and the Image “Homeless” by Daniel Heller all reveal how society can manipulate identity to a point where an individual is no longer themselves but the view of society. “The Black Drunkard” By Kevin Gilbert uses the context of Australian Aboriginal History to effectively portray the man’s belief that he no longer feels he is connected to his cultural identity because of societies treatment towards him and his people. Gilbert’s use of metonyms to class the Caucasian race as “whites” expresses centuries of suppression and conveys the emotional attachment the man has to his lost cultural identity. The use of repetition is also prominent throughout the poem. “It only hurts when I’m sober “; this communicates the drunkard’s loss of will to fight society’s grip on his identity. Although he despises what has happened to him and his people he does nothing proactive to fight it, rather, he uses the recurring motif of his flagon to escape from society’s grip block out reality. Through Gilbert’s use of techniques his portrayal of identity is one of cultural and individual suppression. It expresses the notion of identity being susceptible to society’s manipulation. Like “The Black Drunkard”, “African Beggar” by Raymond Tong explores the theory that identity can be manipulated by surrounding society. Tong presents the beggar through view of society and in the first and second stanza he is seen as repulsive through using effective imagery. For example, “a heap of verminous rags and matted hair”. He then reinforces this with zoomorphism, “he watches us with cunning reptile eyes” these statements both represent the surrounding societies view of him supressing his identity to being no more than a pile of human waste. There is then a change in feeling towards the man in the third...
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