Self: The fickle child borne by the preservation of body or soul

Topics: Identity, Self, Self-concept Pages: 5 (1857 words) Published: September 28, 2013

ARLT 100
Self: The fickle child borne by the preservation of body or soul In the “Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden” and “The Academy”, Borges and Kafka examine the proverbial theme of self-identity. They contrast nature against civilization to allude to the themes of freedom against captivity. Thereafter, they build upon the contrast to craft the notion that self-identity is not immutable; that an individual can experience a vicissitude of self-identity through one’s lifetime due external influences. Identity is defined as the set of meanings that define who one is when one is an occupant of a particular role in the society, a member of a particular group, or claims particular characteristics that identify him or her as a unique personi (Peter J. Burke and Jan E. Stets 1). Both Kafka and Borges create moments when the character or even the reader stands irresolute of the character’s current identity. The ape in “The Academy” stands in a crossroad between his ape-ish past and a humanized identity, the Indian girl in “Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden” transitions from a civilized woman to a feral being, while the Warrior (Droctulft )transitions in the reverse sequence. The underlying theme in all three cases is the inconsistency of identity. Perhaps the most uncertain character among these three would be the ape. Whereas the characters from Borges’ story had completed the transition to a converse self, the ape still seems to be struggling to define its current self. Its dilemma is apparent especially when it denies the full acceptance of itself as a human while also rejecting the possibility that it is still an ape. Throughout the story, it emphasizes that it does not in any way, prefer the human way of life; rather, it chose to transform itself for self-preservation (physically). On the other hand, it acknowledges that it has moved too far from its past self as an ape to ever return to that state as well. The ape is, in essence, in a similar stage of transit in identity to the Indian girl when she conversed with Borges’ grandmother. In that moment, the girl was still able to converse in English and she still had a civilized demeanor although readers soon discover that she will very soon fully adopt the Indian’s uncivilized way of living. The characters stand at twilight between the shedding of its old skin to adopt a new one. In addition to the two stories, Borges’ “The Captive” presents a much relevant theme as well. The boy in the story parallels the Indian girl in that both were held captive by Indians in their youth. They return to civilization one day only to realize that they no longer had a place in civilization; they are convinced more than ever that they belong to nature. Both characters’ conviction is demonstrated by their return to the wild despite the opportunity to remain in civilization. One then wonders: were they really converted to become wildlings or were they actually wildlings that were borne into civilization? The boy in “The Captive” for example, hid a knife in the chimney; this is a bizarre act especially for a child. Perhaps it is a clue to the true nature within the boy—the knife could be a representation of the feral side of the child that was held captive in the house of his parents. There is also the exploration of the catalysts which caused the changes within the characters in both author’s works. There is a certain correspondence between Droctulft and the ape in the sense that the civilized features of the environment in which they were thrown into overpowered the wildness within them. The ape’s first encounter with the crew of the ship is similar to Droctulft’s discovery of the human architecture. Despite this parallel in the two characters, there is a stark contrast in the innermost stimulus for their conversion. The ape’s was not motivated to change for a spiritual pursuit, but rather it was impelled to change to preserve its physical self—to gain “a way out”....
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