Comparison Of The Characters Identity In Two Novels

“Identity is not something we see, it is an invisible link that connects one to the world”

Identity is what makes a person human, identity encompasses our beliefs, culture, personality and even our qualities. Many authors use different techniques to form a characters identity, but is our identity always with us since we born? Does it ever really change or does one’s identity mature? Can a characters identity really be formed? To understand how characters are form their identity two texts comes in mind, ‘Lost’ by Rishubh Rao and ‘The absolute true diary of a part time Indian’ by Sherman Alexi both portray the theme of identity. 

Lost depicts a metaphorically lost teenage boy going through a divorce. The narrative expresses the power of bonds, as the protagonist of the story slowly reminds himself how important his family is. The absolute true diary of a part time Indian, portrays a boy by the name of Arnold being born and brought up in the reservation ‘rez’, Arnold develops a dislike for how poor the ‘rez’ after seeing one of his textbooks having his mother’s name in it this created a deep hatred and leads to Arnold transferring to the affluent upper-class school called the Rearden. In both ‘Lost’, ‘The absolute true diary of a part time Indian’, Identity is formed based on the character’s experiences and bonds. The reader also can see the true identity of a character as the character goes through the troubles in their life. Identity is also formed through the relationships the character has with their families. Identity is like someone’s signature it is who they are but the identity of a person can also be moulded and changed through.

First and foremost, the authors in both text form the character’s identity through the relationship the characters have with their friends and family. Identity as stated before is what makes a person human, the identity of the characters is used to make connections and bonds through their past experiences. For example, Arnolds relationship with Rowdy was particularly interesting as Rowdy is portrayed as an intimidating bullying type figure to Arnold. However, despite his intimidating role, Rowdy often is seen for protecting Junior, this is because they share the identity of comic loving children as they both enjoy comics. This bond shaped their relationship and ultimately led to bloom Arnolds and Rowdy’s identity. Furthermore, the reader could clearly see that Rowdy’s identity bloom as he is no longer a hard-headed bully but an overly caring boy whose actions have been misunderstood. This is in contradictory to the character in lost as he did not display having a relationship or bond with an outside person. However both Arnold and the boy in lost realised the importance of family as Arnold states “If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.” This shows how Arnolds identity has grown into a more open person rather than a closed door. This is similar to the boy in lost as he too realises the importance of family as when he hugged his father after running from home he claimed how the “overwhelming amounts of love and compassion put me at ease”. Towards the end of both text both characters relishes family time and praise their own family, showing their appreciation. This is seen when Arnold similar to boy in lost develops a strong bond with his family as he realises how much his family supports him once he sees the ‘white families’ as per Arnold Jr, in the Reardan. He then develops a stronger bond allowing his identity to prosper. The identity of both characters are similar as they both needed a form of love to show their feelings. We see both Sharmaine Alexis and Rishubh Rao’s text have sculpted the characters identity with the action and reactions the character has with their family and friends.

In addition, relationships not only form the characters identity but also shapes it. If the reader looks at the Arnold at the start of the book, a helpless carefree young Indian boy from the ‘rez’ who lives in his bedroom and draws childish comics, compared to the end of the book where this young Indian boy from the ‘rez’ identity has matured and changed Arnold is now a courageous boy who can stand up for himself and finally accept the reservation as his home. This change was caused by his interactions with his friends and close adults in his life. To illustrate this the reader could recall when Arnolds use to get bullied at ‘The Reardan’ for being the only Indian there apart from the mascot. It was then the coach of Arnolds basketball team who always admired Arnold’s talent secretly never telling him while slowly making Arnold be able to take a stand up for himself. It was then a match between the Reardan and the Reservation where the coach puts Arnold against Rowdy on purpose wanting to make Arnold meet is fear as he sends him on he “Coach repeats the phrase, you can do it—the four hugest words in the world—Junior feels empowered.” From then on Arnold was able to stand up for himself and make amends with Rowdy. In comparison the boy in Lost to had his father’s support towards the end “My father the beckoned me to sit down…after the talk I felt a sense of relief”. Arnold stated towards the end “I've learned that the worst thing a parent can do is ignore their children” in parallel the boy in lost parent’s also were about to divorce and leave the boy however through the boys actions “they had realised how much they had loved me and did not want to divorce”. Both boys towards the end of the text had slightly different identities from the start of the text towards the end, where Arnold ends up following his dream and the boy in lost being able to find himself. Relationships not only form identity but also tinker with it for the better depending on the outcome of the relationship. Both Arnold and the boy now has a deeper more connected identity then they did at the start of the text. Both authors use this to create character growth and development which allows the reader to connect and feel for the character. In the end relationships are experiences in which the character socially grows but going through a rough time also brings out the true identity of a character.

Going through a hardship helps bring out the true identity of a character as the experience outlines the character’s identity. In both ‘Lost’ and ‘The absolute true diary of a part time Indian’ the characters are faced with many hardship and turmoil, during this the reader can see the essence and the true identity of the characters. For example, in ‘Lost’ and ‘The absolute true diary of a part time Indian’ both character’s sense of hope are tested throughout the story and novel. ‘Lost’ describes a teenage boy similar to the age of Arnold in ‘The absolute true diary of a part time Indian’ going through a hardship. The reader sees the boys identity change as he goes through the hardship, at the start of the first paragraph he was angry and the reader could say he was a self-centred boy this is because he develops hatred against his “incompetent family” without understanding the backstory. He then changes to a naïve and selfless boy as he had flashbacks of him as a child playing with his family on the playground, after he sits down and talks it out with his parents we see his true nature a caring boy who cares of nothing but his family. In comparison Arnold also goes through a similar resentment phase as he loathes his parents for being born into a ‘Spokane Indian Reservation’ which caused him to feel isolated form the world. He also resented the reservation as he believed he could follow his dreams in the rez. He similar to the boy in lost develops anger for his home town (the reservation) which he also run away from, the only difference being, he had his parents support which he then later cherishes their support after he sees. However it still is not anywhere near the happy ending Arnold was planning. His old friends from the rez now also hates Arnold as they claim he is a traitor when he plays for the Rearden in basketball match between the two schools. His coach tries to understand why Arnold cannot play them and states “So they think you are a traitor?” Arnolds summons the courage and plays them and ends up winning, this is when we see a change in Arnolds identity as he lets go of his ties to the reservation, however after the matches end and he sees the dismayed look on their faces he too feels the pain of loss only ten times worse. He then claims “Nervous means you want to play. Scared means you don't want to play.” Showing his feelings at the start of the game. At the end of the book Arnold’s identity finally found its place as he claims “We all have to find our own ways to say good-bye.” Showing that he has accepting being apart and part of the reservation. Similar to how the boy in lost found himself at the end of the text “I slept peacefully, knowing I had found myself after a whole day of feeling lost.” This builds a connection in the hardships and turmoil between both characters identity as the way both characters react is extremely similar. Identity is the essence of a person which can be see when a person is shaped with hardships.

Hardship, turmoil forms identity. Happiness and bonds forms identity. Relationships and experiences forms identity. These are how authors build identity in a character. We see both characters starting of has angry and helpless as they think they do not have the power to control their futures where in the end of both novel and text they find and accept themselves for who they are. The rough times that both characters experience brings them closer with their family as they tend to heal together, finding a solution together rather than suffering alone. We also see hardship and turmoil bringing them closer to their true identity when Arnold finally acknowledges the reservations beauty and the boy in lost finally sleeping in peace as he found himself. It is the authors job to form the Identity of a character, however it is the readers job to interpret and question whether that is the real identity or is the character’s identity still a caterpillar ready to turn into a wonderous butterfly. But what is certain is that the purpose for both identities are empower and tell a story that can be different to anyone but empower and inspire all who interpret how the identity is formed.   

16 December 2021
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