Lost in Identity

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Lost in Identity

Through public opinion, prejudices and stereotypes, one’s identity is subject to change. If one is constantly criticized and put down for their physical appearance or their actions, they will try to modify themselves to fit the norm, and to match the majority. In the three pieces, “Barbie Doll,” Siddhartha, and “Black Men and Public Space,” they demonstrate that through society’s expectations and stereotypes, one’s identity will be challenged and thus inhibited. Only when one’s own determination and perseverance pulls through, will they discover their true “Self.”

In both pieces Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, and “Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples, the characters were often seen changing and reevaluating their current positions in society. In “Black Men and Public Space,” Staples recalls his past connection with outside opinions and stereotyping. Black men are repeatedly labeled as dangerous and suspicious, so in the evening, women would avoid him and the policemen would often pull him over solely due to the color of his skin. Because of his constant mistreatment, Staples is conned into believing he is some sort of ominous being who threatens everyone around him. In the end, instead of conveying his true identity, he tries to make everyone else around him feel more comfortable by “learning to move about with care,” and to “give wide berth to nervous people”(Staples). Staples ultimately mutates himself into someone so passive that his only purpose in life is to satisfy others. In Siddhartha, Hesse’s portrayal of Siddhartha illustrates the epitome of conquering “Self” and understanding one’s own identity. At first, Siddhartha attempts to fight back outside pressures, however he too falls into the trap. As Staples journeys through New York and Siddhartha through India, the paths they decide to take are quite similar. For example, soon after parting ways with Govinda, Siddhartha travels to a new town with fresh obstacles waiting to...
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