How is Identity Shaped?

By November 23, 2016 Groovy Past

*Most of this is excerpted from an essay I wrote in College. Don’t mind the format, as it was written as a book report of sorts, about identity and its role in writing.

If someone chooses to develop their own independent identity, they do so to explain themselves. However other people and their culture may cause them to become so attuned to a certain lifestyle that changing their identity does not seem like an option. One person may feel held down by their society and choose to adapt while another might reject the culture they were born into and create a identity outside of their culture.

Identity is not easily defined and takes many forms but it is often influenced in one of two ways. The first involves the way you were brought up, and the people and culture that you are surrounded by during your life. The second is your independent identity, the way you choose to live your life, your morals, and your personal beliefs. Whenever I read a story, I think first of the character’s identity, as it plays such an important role in how the story unfolds.

In John Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild, Chris McCandless chooses to leave his old life behind as a successful college graduate and  invent a new life of freedom in the Alaskan wilderness.

In a separate piece of writing, Cronon puts that, “For many, American wilderness stands as the last remaining place where civilization, that all too human disease, has not fully infected the earth” (69).

Chris also believed that the wilderness offered a place where you could forget about all the problems that civilization has created; where he would be free from all the congestion and instead live a more simplistic lifestyle.

At a certain point later in the book Krakauer decides to write about what he believes adventure means for someone stating that, “The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure you must adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty” (109).


Whether or not someone chooses to identify themselves a certain way, there is an influence on why they believe so.