“Identity Card” Analysis
Everything in life that one works for can be taken away in a matter of seconds. However, one thing that people hold onto no matter what is their name. A name is something that cost nothing and can always be called one’s own. Unfortunately this is not true for the speaker of the poem “Identity Card.” Losing individuality and suffering can be avoided more often than not; however, that is not the case in Mahmoud Darwish’s “Identity Card” where a Palestinian man suffers due to Israeli forces taking what is rightfully his. “Identity Card” moves from a tone of controlled frustration/chaos and pride through a defensive tone followed by an accusatory tone finishing with a rather provoking tone, and finally to an understanding as the speaker expresses his experience. The speaker begins with, “I am an Arab,” and then continuously uses the same phrase to display strong feelings of pride towards his own nationality. The speaker is not ashamed of where he is from and foreshadows the later details of the Israelis judging him. The tone then transitions to defensive as stated, “On my head the ‘iqal cords over a keffiyeh/ Scratching him who touches it.” The traditional headwear is symbolic of the speaker’s life because he declares that if one were to touch the headwear they would get scratched; similarly if one were to mess with his life, he will lash out at them. Additionally the diction of “scratch” is symbolic of the Arabic population being an annoyance to the Israelis. The tone then shifts to accusatory in the third to last stanza that creates the main argument of the poem. The speaker of the poem utilizes repetition and diction to develop his tone as he habits the word “you.” Through this diction and repetition, the speaker makes it blatantly clear what he is going through is the fault of others, and not his own doing. Finally the poem comes to a provoking tone established through details as the speaker says, “And yet, if I were to...
Cited: Darwish, Mahmoud. “Identity Card.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 8th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 1304-05. Print.
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