The Inner Self

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The Inner Self

Z.Z Packer has a very unique style of writing that brings the reader deep into the character’s heart and soul. In her short story, “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”, we get look inside of a social outcast named Dina and the struggle of finding her own identity in completely new atmosphere. The challenges she has to endure during her journey to explore the inner self. Packer main subject matter is on the topic of isolation and the tension inside of a well-constructed community. The idea of “true self” refers to a person’s ability to openly express their true emotion. In the story, the protagonist Dina is so guarded by her feelings that they are afraid to uncover her true emotions, so hence she isolates herself from others. In reality, the only way for one to find it’s inner self is to connect with others with the same core values that also share the same experience. Dina is an African American from the city of Baltimore who she got accepted to attend the prestigious Yale University. During her orientation she was asked to name one object she would like to be, surprisingly her answer was to be a revolver, which she hoped to wipe out the entire world with it. Dina mindset in the beginning of the story is much reflects from her childhood and her inner personality, in which she thinks nobody in world understand her thoughts and feeling. Her answer landed a year of counseling in which during this time she would slowly reveal her side of the story, including her family and also her memories of the past. Isolation can be caused by numerous factors. A community can exclude an individual mainly been different, or they can purposely isolate themselves from the community. Dina is isolated from her Yale community, starting with the orientation leader’s remarks that she does not have to fit in to the white community’s standards and games because she is black. In isolation, Dina slowly develops a sense of control, a illusion of been in control, by connecting with others she would have the risk of losing that illusion of self control. One of main evidence was that Dina didn’t seem to get along with anyone during her beginning semester at Yale, in which she find hard to even talk to strangers. At a new place, people tend to find areas where it seem most resemblance the place where use to live. As Dina puts it “I don’t know, I think it’s the architecture”(3) that she believe this place doesn’t suit her and she is in need of exploring new ground to be able to connect with others. Architecture of place can resemble a lot of emotion of a certain place, that which whenever we move to a new it’s the architecture of the areas that give us feeling of exploring new grounds. Heidi was Canadian who also was dealing problems with social outcast. One of the main issues was that she was a lesbian, and been a lesbian can deal with a lot of stress from its surrounding peers. Heidi was in Dina’s Contemporary Poetry class, where they both learned the Frank O’Hara poem that sums up the issue they both dealing with. As from the story itself, "When I was a child," the person said, "I played by myself in a corner of the schoolyard all alone. I hated dolls and I hated games, animals were not friendly and birds flew away. If anyone was looking for me I hid behind a tree and cried out 'I am an orphan—' " (4) The quote from the poem gave us a much deeper look into Dina’s past life and the feeling she dealt with when she was a child. A person’s personalities often times begin during their childhood, and mature with them as they grown older. Dine had a very close personality at the very beginning, and over time it completely took over her mindset. Both Dina and Heidi lost their mom and came from families who had many issues dealing with family relationship. Dina herself that she hated her father as she explains,

"I hate my father almost as much as I hate the word 'Dad.' " (7)...
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