Cassandra D’Cunha ENG4U1-03 Ms. Coelho 11 January, 2019 What Identity Should Be Based Upon A person’s identity can mean many differents things to everyone. It often answers the question, ‘who are you?’ The concept of identity is something that people tend to struggle with, as they often define their identity with things inherited from their family, or materialistic objects received during their lives. Thesis: You need to find your identity in yourself and in your personality, rather than in materialistic and inherited identifications. Failure to do so results in a loss of confidence in one’s self and actions, never achieving goals due to the limits set by your definition which are given by others. When you define yourself based on the materialistic things that you receive, you limit your possibilities and prevent yourself from achieving goals set by others and yourself. Placing a definition upon you lowers your potential, and it affects the way people see you. Throughout history, being identified as a woman meant that you were not see as an equal to men and were instead seen as their property. In the lecture, “You’ll Never Believe What Happened” is Always A Great Place to Start, in the 2003 CBC Massey Lectures titled, The Truth about Stories, Thomas King discusses his mother, a single woman, who had to raise two children by herself during a time where women were not generally seen in the workplace. His mother defied societies standards, albeit quietly, undetected and rather slowly, and had gone from a woman doing hair in her garage to one being an engineer for the Boeing company. However, her identity as a woman continued to limit her severely, as displayed in the following passage: … And when she got there, she was told that, while everyone else would be salaried and would have engineer status, she would be an hourly employee and would have the same status as the other two women in the department, who were production assistants… where she had to punch a time clock, and where she wasn’t even eligible for benefits or a pension… The other five members of the team were men. She was the only woman. Don’t worry, she was told, if your work is good, you’ll get promoted at the end of the first year. So she waited. There wasn’t much she could do about it. And at the end of the first year, when the review of her work came back satisfactory, she was told she would have to wait another year. And when that year was up . . . (King, 4) It is in this passage that it is evident that King’s mother had her possibilities limited because she was a woman. Her opportunities were lessened, and she could not achieve more because her identity was based on her gender. Although she continuously surpassed society’s expectations of women, people still refused to reward her what she had deserved, or give her a chance to prove herself capable of anything men could do. Similarly, in the book, Not Wanted on the Voyage, the women were constantly in a position that was underneath the men. This is clearly seen with Mrs. Noyes, the wife of Dr. Noyes and the mother of three sons, Japeth, Shem and Ham, during the arrival of Yaweh, when she was attempting to clean His face. “…Noah drew Mrs Noyes into her rightful position behind him and slightly to the left. ‘I crave the pardon of my Lord”,” he said. “This cretin here -my wife- is so unskilled in grace, she cannot have known what she was doing. Whatever punishment my Lord decrees, I shall be only too glad to administer twice over…” (Findley, 64). It is through these two women that it is possible to see how identifying one through gender roles limits the potential to do something great. Their identification made them be seen as weaker and underneath men, which is something affected their lives greatly. With King’s mother receiving a lesser pay and unequal benefits and Mrs. Noyes being treated like she was not worthy of anything, it is seen that they were constantly stopped from having more power than they already had because their identity was based on their gender, rather than on their personality. Point 2: When basing identity on materialistic and inherited items rather than personality, there is always the potential for one’s identity to be lost during times of crises. This is seen in Not Wanted on the Voyage, with Mrs. Noyes’s son, Japeth, who was once a bright and happy child. During the time of his crisis, he had gone to “find his manhood once and for all” (Findley, 21), and while searching for his identity in other places and other people, he encountered a group of Ruffians. They had been eating whomever they encountered on the road, and they had planned to eat Japeth as well, but he had just narrowly escaped (Findley, 72-76). As a result of this encounter, Japeth lost not only his clothes, but his identity as well and “He was giving up -albeit, not altogether- and turning more and more to violence and petulance…” (Findley, 21). Proof 2: Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, provides an additional display of the loss of identity during a time of crisis. Point 3: When you associate your identity with the things that you have received in the past, or things that you are expecting to obtain in the future, your identity will never be about the person that you currently are, rather, it will be about the person you were or will be in the future. Proof 1: The poem Sailing to Byzantium, by Walter Butler Yeats, is about an old man, who does not want to live in the past any longer, and does not want to die either. so he decides to go to the holy city of Byzantium where people of old age are respected and worshipped. When he reaches there, he pleads to the sages of Holy Fire to remove his heart from his body which desires to be with the young, and place it in a form of hammered gold in gold enamelling to keep people awake and sing to the people of Byzantium.This is so that he can continue to live in the present end truly experience. this is similar to another poem entitled motive for metaphor which was written by Wallace Stevens. the motive for metaphor talks about how this person enjoys the dream the ambiguity of life not just the beginning and not simply the end but she enjoys the transitional period”,. “where you yourself were never quite yourself and did not want nor have to be” (Stevens, 11-12). The motive for metaphor is Desiring declaration changes which is the ambiguous state of the present. Point 4: Unless you know who you truly are, and know that you can find your identity in yourself, you will end up attempting to find yourself and your identity in other people and other things. Proof 1: Japeth lost himself after he had a crisis with the Ruffians, and he did not realise that he could look for himself and his identity in his personality. He ended up trying to find his identity in Michael Archangelis, eventually becoming like him and behaving exactly as he had done in his life. “He was curious, with the dangerous curiosity of the young, to discover what might be meant by the Rites of Baal – and how a feather-tickler might be useful in Spain attempts on Emma’s virtue… Japeth now had the courage to rise from where he sat outside his father’s Pavilion and seek the one figure he knew could save him forever from all strangers and from all perils… And Japeth said; “I want be a warrior. Like you.” ” (Findley, 73″,80). Proof 2: “Here we recapture, in full consciousness, that original lost sense of identity with their surroundings, where there is nothing outside the mind of man, or something identical with the mind of man.” (Frye, 13). Conclusion Works Cited Findley, Timothy. Not Wanted on the Voyage. Viking, 1984. Frye, Northrop. The Educated Imagination. W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library, 2007. King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: a Native Narrative. House of Anansi Press, 2011. Shakespeare, William, and Robert Mighall. Hamlet. Macmillan Collector’s Library, 2010. Stevens, Wallace. “The motive for metaphor.” The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens 288 (1990). Yeats, W. B. Sailing to Byzantium. Phoenix, 1996.