Identity: Wild Cat Falling by Colin Johnson, Pleasantville (1998), Prufrock by T.S. Elliot

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Who am I? The question sounds cliché, but let’s be serious. Don’t you believe there is something inside you that you can’t describe, but seems to say, “This isn’t who I am, or who I planned to be”. The texts I have read emphasise the belief that socialization creates a mask, a false identity concealing the self and who we are to be. However, it is widely believed that identity is a product of socialization- that the self changes through our individual experiences. The persona of WCF is a victim of these processes. CJ’s use of shifting temporal frames allows us to review the persona’s past whilst retaining the present, demonstrating the impact of his childhood experiences on his identity. Jesse Duggan was an influential figure in protagonist’s formative years; her fear of the western culture lead her to condition her son into white society: “they belong to the white side of the fence. You’ve got to prove you do and don’t you forget it”. She isolates him from his traditional culture and instils in him the stigmas of the lesser breed. The persona’s frequent self derogatory remarks about being “a mongrel” and “born under the curse of Ham” indicate how society’s treatment of ‘Noongars’ has affected him. Socialization has isolated the protagonist, denying him his cultural identity and stifling his hopes. Throughout, the persona also remains anonymous, insinuating that his identity is amorphous. Yet we clearly see his mask; “I took a long look at him and sneered back in my best Hollywood crim voice”. His tone is satirical, as if he knows, his ‘crim’ act is not a true reflection of his identity. And in spite of this mask, his ‘core’ identity can also be seen: “I stood on the bed, face pressed to the bars, gulping the salt-sea tang until I became part of its crashing surf and soundless depths.” His mask hides his true nature, nonetheless it is revealed through his poetic sensibility. Eliot’s 1911 poem ‘Prufrock’ is a dramatic monologue of a middle-class English-man. For...
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