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Identity and Self-Esteem: A Look at Self-Verification in African American Literature

:: 8 Works Cited
Length: 3415 words (9.8 double-spaced pages)
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Individuals are born into families, races, cultures, and countries, but have little awareness of their individuality as very young children. The psychological sense of being separate individuals from their families or caretakers appears to be of little importance until they recognize themselves as separate selves. This is true for all human beings in all cultures, but for races or cultures who have been marginalized, having a separate identity and gaining self-esteem appear to play an even more important role. This essay will look at African American literature from a psychological perspective. From Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs to Zora Neale Hurston's Delia in "Sweat" to James Baldwin's John in Go Tell It On the Mountain, group and individual identity, in conjunction with a high level of self-esteem, are critical factors in determining the successes achieved by individuals and literary characters in the African American literary tradition. Without this sense of group identity, individual identity, and self-esteem, the African American character becomes like Richard Wright'...

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...raphies of Frederick Douglas and Harriet Jacobs." Melus. Winter 1997. Vol. 22, Issue 4, p. 91. Full text article.

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents In the Life of a Slave Girl: Written By Herself. Ed. and Intro. Nell Irvin Painter. New York: Penguin, 2000.

Parsons, Richard D., Stephanie Lewis Hinson and Deborah Sardo-Brown. Educational Psychology: A Practitioner-Researcher Model of Teaching. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001. 80-81.

Wright, Richard. Native Son. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998.

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