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Question: Many Texts Explore Ways In Which Identity Is Threatened. Explain How At Least One Text You Have Studied Does So

961 words - 4 pages

Texts explore how identity is threatened and the ways in which it can be altered. The debut novel by Fred D’Aguir, The Longest Memory, explores facets of life on the Virginian plantation in the 1800s for various groups. The protagonist, Whitechapel’s story is told not only through events, but polysemic voices and epistolary structure. Texts such as The Longest Memory explore identity and how it can be threatened through the portrayal of African slaves and supremist whites.
Events shape our identity, whether it is ultimately a good or bad change. The elder African slave, Whitechapel, has a rosy view of the plantation, and depicts the lives of the slaves to be a 17th century American Utopia. ...view middle of the document...

Mr. Whitechapel’s thoughts on Whitechapel show his integrity and loyalty, and how valuable he is to the plantation. When Mr. Whitechapel visits the clubhouse with the other plantation owners, many of them mention Whitechapel and how sought after he is, as he is the “ideal slave”, because he is loyal, hardworking and obedient. This indicates that others view Whitechapel as having the identity of a trusted slave, which is the identity he fought his whole life to achieve. Sanders Junior publicly views Whitechapel as a submissive and subordinate member of the human race. He openly displays contempt for Whitechapel, however, his inner monologue conveys how much he likes and respects him. After Whitechapel’s death, Sanders Junior covers him with his jacket, breaking the social barrier and says, “If you were white I would have wanted you as my father”. His statement shows the true depth of the pathos that he feels, and that undoubtedly the whole plantation feels. While Whitechapel sees himself as no deserving of an identity, the polysemic voices used in The Longest Memory indicates that others view Whitechapel’s identity as one to be envied.

The epistolary structure divulges the true nature of the characters by accessing their innermost feelings. The multiple forms of writing allow the reader to compare the differences in view from contrasting genders, races and classes. While Lydia writes eloquently and intelligently, as she identifies with liberal ideas about African slaves, she is also marginalized, as her views seep into her writing. After one of her more opinionated letters to The Virginian, the editor declares that “she exhibits a love for the blacks that clouds her ability to reason”. This form of writing conveys two alternate ideologies with the subordinate challenging the dominant. In Lydia’s inner monologue, her descriptive language...

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