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The term "identity" refers to a person's personality and affinity. The two novels "The Kite Runner" and "Mister Pip" demonstrate how an individual's personality is influenced by his or her environment, which includes the places and people with whom he or she interacts. From birth to the point where they become assertive and grow their own distinctive characteristics in line with the experiences they encounter from their environments during their lives, these locations and people begin to shape the individual's character. In both novels, the theme of identity is explored through various characters from whom it can be deduced that the ultimate identity of the individual is developed throughout the course of their interaction with the environment they are exposed to. The environment of the characters shapes who they ultimately become. This paper will analyze the two novels to prove that identity emanates from environmental influence.
The people around an individual primarily shape the individual’s identity. An individual identifies with their family and friends as the primary source of their identity. They establish close ties with members of their family and their friends and through these relationships; they develop a sense of identity and personality. In the book “The Kite Runner”, the main character Amir, associates closely with his family which consists of Baba who is Hassan’s father; and the family friends who are Rahim Khan, Ali and Hassan (Hosseini p. 2). Although Rahim Khan, Ali and Hassan do not have a blood relationship with Amir, they are in close association with Amir and influence him as a family member would. Hassan plays a critical role in the development of Amir’s personality. This is because he remains loyal to Hassan despite Hassan neither defending him when he was sexually assaulted nor when Amir falsely accused him of stealing so that he could be sent away. Hassan later on regrets his actions and this develops his compassionate personality which is evident through his adoption of Sohrab, who is Hassan’s son after the death of Hassan and his wife. In the book “Mister Pip”, the identity of the main character is developed through the relationship with her mother and her friend Mr. Watts (Jones and Shaw p. 115). She develops a strong sense of identity with her closest family member who is her mother and despite her mother’s nefarious actions such as hiding the book “Great Expectations” leading to the destruction of the village and the death and mayhem that follows, Matilda remains loyal to her mother and never once discloses that her mother hid the book. She does not even tell Mr. Watts who is a friend to her and whose ultimate killing by the redskins is as a result of her mother’s behavior.
The places which an individual is exposed to also shape their identity. The theme of identity in both novels is shaped by the environment which the characters of the book dwell in. for example, Baba, in the book “The Kite Runner”, do not adapt to life in America after escaping from Afghanistan due to conflict(Hosseini p.131). He remains skeptical of a doctor, of Russian descent for example, because he remembers the conflict that occurred between Russians and Afghanistan. This shows that he identifies closely with his native country, Afghanistan and even who he is another country, he fondly remembers his home and through actions such as refusal to be treated by a Russian doctor, he expresses the connection and affection for his homeland. In the book, “Master Pip”, the island of Bougainville becomes an identity to Mr. Watts despite him not being a native of the island and being the only white man remaining on the island(Jones and Shaw p.3 ). Mr. Watts chooses to remain on the island despite other white people on the island being given a chance to live. He chooses to help the children on the island to read and fosters connection and life on the island showing his love for the island as if it were his real home.
Identity as a theme is also fostered by the pressures and dire circumstances in the environment that individuals are exposed to. Through the tough situations that individuals face, they develop their personalities with time. In the book “The Kite Runner” guilt from watching and not helping his loyal servant, Hassan, when he is raped by Assef; causes Amir to develop a guilty conscience which leads him to frame Hassan so that Hassan can leave (Hosseini p.64 ). This is because the relationship between Hassan and Amir deteriorates after the sexual assault. When Amir later encounters Sohrab, he is again put in a difficult situation in which he could have opted to give up on rescuing Sohrab from being sexually molested as a child or struggle to find a way to adopt Sohrab and thereby rescue him from the life of sexual assault. His determination and compassion becomes evident as he manages to rescue Sohrab and takes him to live with him in the United States. In the book “Mister Pip”, the difficulty faced by Matilda after watching her friend Mr. Watts being killed and her mother raped and killed causes her to lose her sense of identity and wish to kill herself through letting herself slip and drown while crossing a river (Jones and Shaw p. 206 ). However, she is rescued. She thereafter faces even more challenges after looking into Mr. Watts, she becomes depressed. However, she develops stamina and thus her identity becomes courageous as she opts to make Mr. Watts as her Charles Dickens, thereby giving herself inspiration and motivation that enables her to have a purpose in life.
Morality is also at the core of identity as the individuals in the two novels learn from their environments the difference between right and wrong and the importance to uphold what is morally upright. As such, there is redemption as pertains to the development of the identity of the main characters in the two novels. There is a change in identity towards the better when Amir adopts Hassan’s orphan son, Sohrab whom he manages to rescue from Assef who was sexually assaulting him(Hosseini p. 240). As for Assef, he ends up being shot by Sohrab in the eye using a gun. This shows that there is a theme of identity being of a virtuous nature and that immoral behavior is ultimately punished. Amir redeems himself by rescuing Hassan’s son despite not being able to rescue Hassan who was also sexually assaulted by Assef. In “Master Pip”, the action of Matilda’s mother in hiding the book “great Expectations” results in not only Mr. Watts’s death but also in hers (Jones and Shaw p. 209). She hid the book due to jealousy because she was of the view that her daughter learned more from Mr. Watts than from her. As such, despite being a religious person, she hides the book so there can be consequences for Mr. Watts. However, she also ends up being ultimately raped and killed by the Redskins.
Identity can also be seen to be shaped by forces beyond an individual’s control that cause them to develop mechanisms for coping. For example, in the book “Mister Pip”, the people stuck in Bougainvillea Island find themselves in the middle of a war that they did not start (Jones and Shaw p. 9). As teacher’s leave, the society in the island develops coping mechanisms such as teaching the young children everything that the elder people in the island knew. The older members of the village therefore take turns to teach the children on many topics including religion and the color blue which Daniel’s grandmother teaches the children. In the book “The Kite Runner”, the circumstances of war in Afghanistan causes Amir and Baba to leave their country for the United States in order to survive(Hosseini p. 105).
In the end, the theme of identity emanates from an individual’s choice after taking into account the environmental factors. The characters make the final decision on who to become. For example, in “Master Pip”, Matilda chooses loyalty for her mother over the friendship with Mr. Watts and the protection of the island(Jones and Shaw p. 111). In the book, “The Kite Runner”, Amir chooses to protect Sohrab and redeem himself from the wrongs he committed to Hassan(Hosseini p. 240). This implies that environmental factors such as people and places have an effect on the theme of identity in the two novels. However, it is up to an individual to choose their final identity knowing that an immoral identity brings about negative consequences.
Works Cited List
Jones Lloyd, and Christopher Shaw. Mister Pip, London: John Murray, 2007. Print.
Hosseini Khaled. The Kite Runner, New York: Riverhead Books, 2003. Print.
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