Identity Transformations From Past To Present

1785 words - 8 pages

Every individual has a distinct past that shapes his or her identity. The situations people face may cause them to have distorted perceptions of themselves. These distorted perceptions allow people to lose sight of the important things in life. In order to discover their true selves they will need to create a path for self transformation. Scott Momaday, Victor Joseph and Macklemore have different pasts but all share a common thread of reconnecting with the important things in life. Many variables affect each person’s destiny, but it is their physical and psychological factors that predisposition their vulnerability. Vulnerability can often be seen as a sign of weakness, but these protagonists are examples of those who embrace their vulnerabilities. Within Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain, Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals and Macklemore’s life, the protagonists claim their true identities by becoming vulnerable.
While at rock bottom of one’s life, each protagonist maintains sense of security by remembering his past. In Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain, Momaday reclaims his past by remembering the time he spends with his grandmother. Through his grandmother’s death Momaday recollects her: “standing at the wood stove on a winter morning and turning meat in a great iron skillet; sitting at the south window, bent above her beadwork, and afterwards when her vision failed . . . when the weight of the age came upon her; praying. I remember her most often at prayer” (2507). He strongly desires to be at her grave and yearns for belonging through visiting her spiritually. Momaday looks at her grave with despair instead of embracing all the life that she gave him. By Momaday reminiscing about his grandma, he loses hope and becomes powerless. Similarly, in Smoke Signals, when Victor hears that his dad died, he becomes powerless. Victor only remembers his father in negative ways--drunk and abusive. Victor’s alcoholic dad, Arnold Joseph, transfers his suffering and anger onto Victor. Alcohol provides a means for Arnold to temporarily forget about all his obstacles in the world. Victor’s friend tells him the alcoholism is tearing the family apart, “when your father left, your mother lost you too” (Smoke Signals). Alcohol has the ability to destroy families. It impacts the lives both physically to the person drinking, but also mentally, towards the people who are victims of it. Victor is cognizant of alcohol’s effects because he has firsthand knowledge of the damage it creates. A reservation in South Dakota has placed a ban on alcohol for over 100 years: "It's about trying to heal our people, and move in a new direction" says Ms. Tapio (Newman, Jesse). Banning alcohol on the Indian Reservation makes it is harder for people to access it, and consequently fall into addiction. If there were a ban on alcohol, Victor’s whole life would have been altered. Although Victor knows his father in negative ways, he gains security by remembering the strong...

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