Whistling Vivaldi By Claude M. Steele: A Critical Analysis

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How someone views themselves is what essentially makes us who we are. That is also know as an identity. These identities are followed by issues relating to these identities. Those issues are associated with identities are called identity contingencies. Claude M. Steele wrote Whistling Vivaldi and it argues how identity contingencies exist. The definition given by Steele is “This book is what my colleagues and I call identity contingencies- the things you have to deal with in a situation because you have a given social identity, because you are old, young, gay, a white male, a woman, black, Latino, politically conservative or liberal, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a cancer patient, and so on,” (Steele 3). In Zora Hurston’s article, ”How …show more content…
In Steele’s writing there is a section where he talks about how people with identity contingencies deal with their contingency. Steele says, “When barriers arise, we’re supposed to march through the storm picking ourselves up by our bootstraps,”(Steele 4). When placing this quote in his article, Steele is suggesting that no matter the issue at hand. For people with identity contingencies the barriers are their contingencies and they are to march through the “storm”. The idea of the storm is also more issues that come along with the contingencies. when these people who face their contingencies or their “barriers” and pick themselves up by their bootstraps they are powering through their contingencies not letting it stop them. In hurston’s article she refers to this with the use of a metaphor. Hurston says,”No, I do not weep at the world- I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife,” (Hurston 785). In this quote the metaphors “I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife” (Hurston 785). The oyster knife in this metaphor is Hurston’s skills and talents. She is practicing her skills and her talents so they are the best of her ability. By making her “knife” sharp Hurston can open the “oyster”. This oyster would be the opportunities through life and by practicing her skills and talents she will be able to achieve what she wants. Oysters can be hard to open just like barriers are hard to overcome, but with enough patience and skills you can open that oyster or overcome that barrier and achieve what has been fought so hard for. By Hurston showing how difficult life can be for her but she can still sharpen her knife and open the oyster to a better life it helps support Steele’s argument of identity contingencies and how people with such contingencies can still open their oyster like Hurston

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