Culture and identity go hand in hand. Everyone has their own identity, but where does that come from? The main contributor to someone’s identity is the culture they grew up in. Cultures vary in many different ways. Chinese is a very factual, to the point, respect your elders and family culture, while American culture is more carpe diem, freedom of speech, bigger is better mentality. So as you could imagine someone in China will grow up with a much different identity that someone in America. Someone’s true identity comes out when you’re placed in a situation that tests your culture’s view of right or wrong.
Whether you go with the flow or choose to disobey is how you know one’s true identity. Take into account the story “Sonny’s Blues. ” The narrator of the story, Sonny’s brother, thinks from the time Sonny’s a boy that the path Sonny has chosen is the wrong one. THis is because Sonny decides he wants to be a musician and gets into drugs, not the correct view of the culture deems correct. However, through his music Sonny shows his brother how he becomes happy and finally Sonny’s brother understands why he went through what he did. They grew up in the same housing project and culture but why did they turn out so differently?
Sonny went down the path that he felt would make him happy, the music. His brother chose to go along with society and join the army, get a career, and then start a family. I feel that Sonny has found his identity long before his brother has. He knows exactly what makes him happy and he goes after that in his own way, breaking free of society and becomes his own man, with his own identity. The narrator goes through the motions and while his brother maybe going down a separate path Sonny’s alive and has found himself. His true identity comes out when he’s on stage.
In America we preach the pursuit of happiness meaning to go for what you want, allowing your true identity to shine. Whether you choose to take Sonny’s route or his brother’s, now that’s where you find your identity. In Jekyll’s case, he had split personalities. Hyde was his bad side and his pure side, which everyone came to know, wasn’t what Jekyll really wanted. He wanted to let Hyde out and to do so he had to take drugs, like Sonny did. Jekyll’s surface was a proper man but his true identity was what lied beneath him and what he allowed to surface when he conjured up his potion.
Letting out this carnage side made Jekyll feel alive, with no remorse of what he was doing. The aliveness he felt was the disregard of his culture and their rules, and this is where he found himself happy. The disobeying Hyde was Jekyll’s true identity and how he really wanted to feel. Have you ever one day been faced with the opportunity to break cultures rules and done it? Did you feel exhilarated? Ones identity will never change. When they figure out what the true inner person is that, whether its a naughty person or a great person is what surfaces when the person is alone or set with a straining situation.
The Jekyll side is what culture wanted to see, but the true identity of Jekyll was the disobeying side of Hyde. Identity now a days in America is being more seen as your image. Identity is everything that you are composed of. Looking at one person you can think you know them, but what do you know? Your Identity is you culture, morals, family, everything that has ever come to shape you to who you are today. What do you know at first glimpse of the hipic standing in front of you? He was adopted by two Asians when he was just a baby and now is more assimilated into the asian traditions than any hipic traditions.
In “Trying to Find Chinatown,” this is almost the exact situation. This short story was wrote to open the eyes of the reader to see that someone doesn’t have to be the person you label them as when first laid eyes on. Just because a person looks one way their identity has a much deeper meaning to them than image. Of course your identity for the most part will show up on the outer surface minutely, but who knows what caused you to walk down to the corner store to rob it, or why you jumped in front of that stranger on the bus to save his life jeopardizing your own.
Your identity is what drives you to make those decisions. Your culture has a lot to do with that too. Some peoples true identity is to go with what culture deems right or wrong and others do things just in spite of their culture, but for the most part every ones identity reflects the culture they were raised in-in some form. Ones identity must be found by pushing themselves to the limit of what is known. Where they have to make their own decision based purely on the voice inside of them which tells them what to do.
Your identity can mask itself to let the culture you live in accept you, but at some point if you repress that too much it could be detrimental to your health, just ask Dr. Jekyll about that one. Don’t ever judge a book by its cover because the man you see on the outside, sometimes maybe a very different person inside. People go on missions in search of their true identities, but i feel that the way to find your true identity is to look in the mirror and ask yourself, what do i base my choices off? Do i go with the flow of my culture or am i a stand alone type person. Only you can know the answer of your true identity.