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The Concept Of Identity In "About A Boy" By Nick Hornby

913 words - 4 pages

Identity, as Oxford Dictionary defines, is simply who someone is. This definition opens up the concept of identity to many interpretations, an example of which is shown through the novel, "About A Boy" by Nick Hornby. The novel is essentially about a man and a boy helping each other find their own identities. Will, is a 36 year old man who is unwilling to settle down in life, while Marcus is a 12 year old boy who spends the day stressing about his suicidal and depressed mother. Will, being cool and trendy, is contrasted with Marcus, who is old fashioned and traditional. Already, we can see a mix up of identities. Through their conflicting personalities, Marcus helps Will grow up, while Will helps Marcus become a kid. Hornby intended this to reveal to the readers the concept of social or personal identity. He shows, through the depiction of these two main characters, that identity is not how other people see you, rather it is how you see yourself. For example, does what his mother wishes him to do. This is shown when Marcus says, "But all that happens is we have an argument and I lose, and I do what you want me to do." The quote suggests that Marcus does not think the same way as his mother, only he has no choice but to do so. Will, on the other hand, acts trendy and fashionable in order to "fit in" with society. The quote, "...how you spent Christmas was a message to the world about where you were at in life..."shows that Will does not care about any depth or meaning whatsoever- he merely cares about how he may be perceived from the outside.Hornby therefore shows here that identity should not be how others want you to act; rather it should be what you are. Hornby also uses many literary techniques to portray his concept of identity. For example, he uses a split narration system whereby the narrator switches from Will to Marcus every new chapter. Hornby uses this technique in order to more accurately depict identity. For example, through Will's narrations, we see that he is always thinking of families and children which suggests a mature mind. This is then juxtaposed with the thoughts that families are miserable and that caring for himself only is the way to go. Marcus's narrations on the other hand, suggest that Marcus is perceptive of his surroundings. The quote, "Marcus never said anything when she cried.He didn't know what to say. He didn't understand why she did it, and because he didn't understand he couldn't help..." shows that Marcus is sensitive and far too engrossed in thoughts for his age. This is then contrasted with his experience- although mature; he is nevertheless a kid and does not understand the world. Through...

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