Identity In Caleb's Crossing And Lose Your Mother

1400 Words 6 Pages
“Caleb’s Crossing” and “Lose Your Mother” are both stories of young women trying to find an identity. In both stories, the women find themselves at the end of a long journey, reflecting on their discoveries during that journey. For Bethia, the journey was her entire life and she is recording its events from the time that Caleb came into her home. In Hartman’s case, she is recollecting her trip to Ghana to uncover more about the slave trade. In both books, the narrators find themselves sandwiched between two cultures. Bethia is caught between the demands of the English Puritan community and the mystery of the Native American culture. Saidiya Hartman feels like an outsider in her homeland as an African American who cares deeply about her roots, …show more content…
While Bethia is a fictional narrator, her tale is no less poignant than that of Saidiya. Both women begin their journeys as lost strangers in a world where they don’t quite fit in. Bethia doesn’t agree with the strict ideals of her village and Saidiya isn’t sure that she has a right to call herself an African American if she has never investigated Africa. Bethia finds her identity before her death as a Christian and a courageous woman, but not as a hero. Hartman decides that she is truly an African American and sees her identity as being rooted in the history of many slaves and in the promise of what she will become. In “Caleb’s Crossing”, Bethia is mournful because her people will not accept the Native Americans as they are, and because some Native Americans were willing to give up their identity to fit in. Similarly, Saidiya is grieved because the ancestors of slaves are so willing to forget about their history and lose half of who they are. Both women were at peace with themselves and who they were by the end of the books; however, they were troubled by some facts that they recovered during their journeys. Bethia realized that she would not see true peace between the English and the Native Americans during her time. Saidiya understood how many descendants of slaves used their history to gain profits and others simply wanted to forget about the terrible past. The conclusion of these books was a bittersweet combination of peace and sadness. Peace in finding one’s true identity and sadness at the realization that so many others never will. These stories were excellent examples of how wisdom comes at a price that many are unwilling to

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