Art & Identity in New Orleans

HNRS 109 Spring '18

A Comparison of Identity

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Throughout this course, we have read three different books: The Awakening, A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as The Moviegoer. These three books deal with the  struggle of  each individual to find their role and meaning in society. This existential conflict is one that has plagued society for ages, with humans desiring approval and acceptance from their peers. Comparing the characters in these books, all reach a point in their lives where they discard their identity formed by the different forces of society for an identity in which they desire. Binx and Kate from The Moviegoer discard their previous identities, Kate leaving her fiancé and running away together to purse a “happily ever after ending.” In A Streetcar Named Desire, we follow Blanche as she is trying to portray her desired identity, wearing frivolous furs and jewels to cover up her real identity which was stained with sinful acts of prostitution and inappropriate affairs. Lastly, in The Awakening, Edna has a similar break from the mold as she runs away from her husband to be with Robert and eventually commits suicide. These acts of defiance against societal norms are brought upon by the rigid structure put upon women as second to their male counterparts, their ideas and values holding little weight and importance during this time period.

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