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Clash Of Identity Essay

1135 words - 5 pages

Clash of Identity

The difference between Rodriguez’s struggle between identity and Angelou’s struggle is that, Angelou’s identity’s center of focus is her name, while Rodriguez’s identity seems to revolve around his “complexion”. Although they both wrote about the struggle with their own identity, the views and attitude of the two authors differ. In Richard Rodriguez’s essay “Complexion” and Maya Angelou’s essay “Mary” both authors illustrate some hardships they faced during their life, such as their experience with racism and prejudice. In spite of the fact that they are both faced with similar situations, the actuality that sets apart their characters is how they dealt with each of their ...view middle of the document...

”(Maya 3), this she said to a Texas women, when asked about her hometown.
     Rodriguez and Angelou both expressed their struggled in search for their own identity in their essay. Margaret’s identity was compromised when Margaret was called out of her original name. Margaret’s name was casually changed by Mrs. Cullinan, “That’s too long she’s Mary from now on”(Maya 6). Margaret reciprocated by taking her revenge upon Mrs. Cullinan. Margaret struggles between Mary and Margaret, Margaret her true self, a free person, an individual, and Mary, a menial laborer, a servant inferior to Mrs. Cullinan, a person who toyed with Margaret’s name as if it was her possession. Rodriguez on the other hand, shaved his arms to change his skin complexion, to get away from being stereotyped and opinionated as a menial laborer by his relatives, due to his dark skin. Rodriguez’s relatives often spoke of his complexion, “In my mind I heard the swirling voices of aunts, and even my mother’s voice, whispering, whispering incessantly about lemon juice solutions and dark, feo children”(Rodriguez 455), in his culture, lemon juice was believed to lighten a persons skin. Rodriguez’s mother would habitually use this treatment on him, the only actual thing this remedy did, was make Rodriguez feel even more of an outcast, more ashamed of his true self.
The difference, however, between Angelou and Rodriguez was that Rodriguez’s dilemma wasn’t his skin complexion, but what others thought of his skin complexion, for instance Rodriguez illustrates, “I didn’t consider my dark skin to be a racial characteristic…I judged myself ugly… I felt my dark skin made me unattractive to women.”(Rodriguez 455), unlike Rodriguez, Angelou was confident enough in herself to speak of Mrs. Cullinan in a demeaning way, “Mrs. Viola Cullinan was a plump woman…her face looked like the mask of an impish elf.”(Maya 4) this shows that Margaret’s attitude is different than that of Rodriguez, Rodriguez didn’t once speak negatively about anyone, while in fact, he was spoken of in a negative way.
Racism also played a role on both Rodriguez’s and Angelou’s lives. An incident that shows discrimination in Angelou’s essay is when Angelou mentions the segregated dishes, ”I had a glass...

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