Identity In Edwidge Danticat's A Wall Of Fire Rising

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Since Rene Descartes first penned the phrase “cogito ergo sum”, Western thought has been obsessed with the notion of the self and its significance. At the core of one’s self is his identity -- his absolute consistency with himself, which “derives its distinction from what it is not” (Bennet, Grossburg, and Morris 173). An inherent faith in the validity of this identity is vital, lest we become vulnerable to descending into an abyss of self-doubt and total nihilism. Yet with the introduction of multicultural society beckoned by modernity, so too entered a phenomenon that systematically undermined the validity of one’s identity. These multicultural societies are composed of collective identities -- defined by their culture -- which find themselves …show more content…
Krak! The historical context of the story is Haiti, during the long period of economic turmoil it experienced following its independence from France. The story’s protagonist, Guy, is a direct recipient of the financial woes inflicted onto Haitians during this time, as he is unable to hold down a steady job, which develops in him deep-seated dissatisfaction. Magnifying his dissatisfaction is a comparison of his lot to the false promises of egalitarianism from the Haitian Revolution. These promises are repeatedly echoed in Guy Jr.’s recitations of a speech included in his role as the slave revolutionary, Dutty Boukman. Though “it was obvious that this was a speech written by a European man”, which indicates bias in a retelling of historical events, it gave Guy and his wife, Lili, “rare pleasure of hearing the voice of one of the forefathers of Haitian independence in the forced baritone of their only child” (Danticat 56-57). An image is implanted into Guy in which he views himself as the Other to not only the meant-to-be success story of the Haitian Republic, but also the very notion of success already being enjoyed by his very son. Guy is astutely aware of what is being denied to him, and he defines himself by his inadequacy in every aspect of his

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