Issues of identity in the 19th century and 20th century American Literature
Issues of identity in the 19th century and 20th century American Literature In the American Literature the major issue in every writer’s works was identity. Many people struggled to find their own identity. Some succeeded, some failed. The same issue will appear in the following works. In Good country people, the main character Joy/Hulga suffers an identity crisis just like Dee, from Everyday use by Alice Walker and the Swede, from The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane. All of these characters have distinct features which makes them unique and appealing to the reader’s eye. Each one of them had suffered or passed through painful experiences in order to find their inner selves. The first appearance of Hulga, as Joy, came through the thoughts that the narrator attributed to her mother, Mrs. Hopewell: “Joy was her daughter, a large blonde girl who had an artificial leg. Mrs. Hopewell thought of her as a child though she was thirty-two years old and highly educated” (pag.1). Through her new identity, she can be described in a few words: as an unattractive woman with an artificial leg, which she gained it through a terrible hunting accident, old enough to be independent, despite living with her mother. The name change shows that the main character has, in spite of herself, absorbed the values of her mother:
"She had a vision of the name working like the ugly sweating Vulcan who stayed in the furnace and to whom, presumably, the goddess had to come when called" (pag3). and in the same time it expresses her independence in choosing her own identity. This change was also seen as one her “higher creative act” (pag3). Through this transformation she shows her hostility against her mother, who fails to understand who her daughter is: “If you want me, here I am—LIKE I AM,” (pag.2). “One her major triumphs”, as the narrators says, “was that her mother had not been able to turn her dust into Joy, but the greater one was that she had been able to turn it herself into Hulga.”
Bibliography: 1. O 'Connor, Flannery- “Good Country People”, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971, New York
2. Walker, Alice- “Everyday Use” (1973)
3. Crane, Stephen- “The Blue Hotel” (1898), Collier 's Weekly
4. Sexton, Timothy. "Identity Confusion in Alice Walker 's "Everyday Use."" Nov 12 2007.