Thursday, October 19, 2006

Identity and the City

The social construction of a city can make a person forget who he or she really is, as Wendt shows in Black Rainbow. I was struck by Wendt’s uses of sentences beginning with “Remembered” in the middle section of the novel. The Free Citizen says, “I put on a pair of black trousers, a black polo-neck jersey, black socks and shoes, and a leather jacket. Remembered I was a vegetarian and dropped the jacket to the floor of the wardrobe” (118). The Tribunal’s new wardrobe has made the Free Citizen forget a part of his identity, with its control over him and its ability to influence him through such gifts. Later, when he is with the youths and trying to find his family, the Free Citizen says, “I got another whisky. Remembered I’d not touched hard alcohol for years. With each sip I relaxed” (127). Here not only does he recognize his changing, the Free Citizen actually continues enjoying something contrary to who he is. Even while trying to circumvent the Tribunal’s controls in seeking out his family, he still is succumbing to their lifestyle due to societal pressures.
I immediately thought of the societal pressures of Loyola. Do we all lose a bit of our identity coming to this school, all being formed by this small society around us? Do we look outside and allow the actual city to influence us? Loyola has placed itself in a bubble, and although the administration is trying to break that bubble, it remains to be seen if the student body will continue these initiatives in the future and make Baltimore a serious part of Loyola’s environment.