High School vs Elaine Risley

Topics: Adolescence, Self, Identity Pages: 5 (2102 words) Published: August 7, 2012
What impact do all of our past experiences and relationships, the good and the bad, have on our identities and sense of self? The self is a key construct in several schools of psychology, broadly referring to the cognitive and affective representation of one's identity. In the book Cat's Eye by Margaret Attwood, Elaine's identity and her perceived sense of self is dynamic and all her positive and negative experiences and relationships have helped shape it, as well as my past experiences and relationships have shaped me into who I am today. Much of the important experiences that have contributed to forming Elaine's identity occurred while she was still a child, as this is crucial time in her life to developing her personality and how she interacts with her peers and future relationships. Similarly, the experiences and relationships as a child have had a tremendous impact on my sense of self and the development of my personality. When Elaine enters high-school, her entire identity shifts from being serene and introverted to callous extroversion and notoriety. Likewise, my identity also shifted but not as radically as Elaine's, and I feel I gained great insight and personal growth during my time in high-school. Although we may be very different people in our teenage and adult years, our experiences and relationships as children have an everlasting impact on our developing identities.

Elaine's experiences as a child have had a profound impact on developing her identity as both a teenager and an adult. As a child before moving to Toronto, Elaine was relatively happy and content with her life, even though she did not have any friends. As quoted from the text "Until we moved to Toronto I was happy." (22). Much of Elaine's lack of connecting with people as she grows older can be attributed to her truly terrible experiences as a child, such as the time she was placed in the hole. Quoted from the text, "When I was put into the hole I knew it was a game; now I know it is not one. I feel sadness, a sense of betrayal. Then I feel the darkness pressing down on me; then terror." (120). Elaine was innocent, naïve, and serene as a child and these "friends" of hers took advantage of that fact. She genuinely believed that her friends were trying to help her to become one of them and integrate her, as evidenced by the text, "I am not normal, I am not like the other girls. Cordelia tells me so, but she will help me. Grace and carol will help me too. It will take hard work and a long time." (134). This is the underlying reason why she puts up with this blatant bullying, perpetrated on her by the girls. Instead of telling her parents or a school teacher, she copes by inflicting physical pain on herself which only further damages her self-esteem, as proven from the text, "It turns colder and colder. I lie with my knees up, as close to my body as I can get them. I'm peeling the skin off my feet; I can do it without looking, by touch." (133-134). All of these experiences are the defining moments of Elaine's life that have contributed to the development of Elaine's identity and personality, much like my experiences and relationships as a child have developed my sense of self even as a teenager and young adult.

Very much like Elaine, my childhood experiences have also had a profound impact on the growth of my identity. Unlike Elaine, however, I did not have the luxury of living with both of my parents. Due to my parents' divorce, I was raised by a very strict mother. My mother worked two jobs in order to provide for us, and expected from all of us that we get excellent grades in school and to spend our time studying. Since I spent most of my time at home studying, it was very difficult for me to keep friends. During the day at school, I would develop many friendships that would unfortunately not last, as many were interested in playing after school and I had to stay at home and study. This continued throughout my late childhood until the age...
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