'I am not a Virginian, but an American' (Patrick Henry). Discuss regional and national identity in American fiction.
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Personal identity seems like it's just such an American archetype, from Holly Golightly re-inventing herself in 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' to Jay Gatsby in 'The Great Gatsby.' It seems like the sort of archetypal American issue. If you're given the freedom to be anything, or be anyone, what do you do with it? -Chuck Palahniuk
Throughout Phillip Seymour's novel, American Pastoral, the concept of national identity changes for characters with the progressive times. The Swede’s identity builds from his early years upon the classic ideals of the American dream. The Swede’s very own identity could be questioned due to the oddness of his physical exterior; “None possessed anything remotely like the steep-jawed, insentient Viking mask of this blue-eyed blond born into our tribe as Seymour Irving Levov.” It was uncommon for a Jewish person to be fair, or blue eyed which is where his nickname, the Swede, comes from; and also questions national identity in the way he is treated differently for it. The Swede’s brother describes him as “a very nice, simple, stoical guy. Not a humorous guy. Not a passionate guy… banal, conventional.” (3.12) This differs vastly from Zuckerman’s early description of the Swede, through this portrayal we can see from the perspective of someone else (importantly his brother) how his identity is conventionally made up.
Usually in novels grappling with identity crisis, there is a downfall like for Brick’s struggle to be true to his sexual identity in Tennessee Williams’s play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It was in a time when America did not tolerate same sex relationships, so each character acted in accordance with the sexual identity given to their genders. For Seymour, he is heavily praised like some kind of God for his...
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...920’s and comes across highly imitating. Nick describes Tom as having a “cruel body” and “Two shining arrogant eyes which had established dominance over his face.” Tom believes that the white race is superior to any other and cannot be changed. "It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.” Tom’s ignorance and highly racist attitude sums up his regional identity, growing up in a rich family and always being rich only open one world for him, the one he is born into. Jay Gatsby however differs hugely to Toms post structuralist ways. Gatsby is besotted by Tom’s wife Daisy, and his modernistic, extravagant parties he throws prove exciting for both Eggs. He is far more reserved in an American idealized opinion sense. Gatsby is new money and mainly set his life out this way because of his infatuation with Daisy.