ORAL 100 Self: The fickle child borne by the preservation of body or soul In the “Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden” and “The Academy’, Forges and Kafka examine the proverbial theme of self-identity. They contrast nature against civilization to allude to the themes of freedom against captivity. Thereafter, they build upon the contrast to craft the notion that self-identity is not immutable; that an individual can experience a vicissitude of self-identity through one’s lifetime due external influences.
Identity is defined as the set of meanings that define who one is when one is an occupant of a reticular role in the society, a member of a particular group, or claims particular characteristics that identify him or her as a unique persons (Peter J. Burke and Jan E. Stets 1). Both Kafka and Forges create moments when the character or even the reader stands irresolute of the character’s current identity.
The ape in “The Academy’ stands in a crossroad between his ape-sis past and a humankind identity, the Indian girl in “Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden” transitions from a civilized woman to a feral being, while the Warrior (Troubled )transitions in the reverse sequence. The underlying theme in all three cases is the inconsistency of identity. Perhaps the most uncertain character among these three would be the ape. Whereas the characters from Forges’ story had completed the transition to a converse self, the ape still seems to be struggling to define its current self.
Its dilemma is apparent especially when it denies the full acceptance of itself as a human while also rejecting the possibility that it is still an ape. Throughout the story, it emphasizes that it does not in any way, prefer the human way of life; rather, it chose to transform itself for elf-preservation (physically). On the other hand, it acknowledges that it has moved too far from its past self as an ape to ever return to that state as well. The ape is, in essence, in a similar stage of transit in identity to the Indian girl when she conversed with Forges’ grandmother.
In that moment, the girl was still able to converse in English and she still had a civilized demeanor although readers soon discover that she will very soon fully adopt the Indian’s uncivilized way of living. The characters stand at twilight between the shedding of its old skin to adopt a new one. In addition o the two stories, Forges’ “The Captive” presents a much relevant theme as well. The boy in the story parallels the Indian girl in that both were held captive by Indians in their youth.
They return to civilization one day only to realize that they no longer had a place in civilization; they are convinced more than ever that they belong to nature. Both characters’ conviction is demonstrated by their return to the wild despite the opportunity to remain in civilization. One then wonders: were they really converted to become wilding or were they actually wilding that were borne into civilization? The boy in “The Captive” for example, hid a knife in the chimney; this is a bizarre act especially for a child.
Perhaps it is a clue to the true nature within the boyвЂ?the knife could be a representation of the feral side of the child that was held captive in the changes within the characters in both author’s works. There is a certain correspondence between Troubled and the ape in the sense that the civilized features of the environment in which they were thrown into overpowered the wildness within them. The ape’s first encounter with the crew of the ship is similar to Truffles discovery of the human architecture.
Despite this parallel in the two characters, there is a stark contrast in the innermost stimulus for their conversion. The ape’s was not motivated to change for a spiritual pursuit, but rather it was impelled to change to preserve its physical selfвЂ?to gain “a way out”. The ape, in a way traded its spiritual identity for the sake of its physical self. Similarly, the Indian girl probably converted for this same reason when she was taken by the Indians, although the difference between the two characters lies in her eventual embracement of her new identity.
The story mentions “she was happy, and she returned that night to the desert” (Forges 210) and how she had fully adopted a wild way of living as demonstrated when she “leaped to the ground and drank up the hot blood”(Forges 211). Unlike the ape who keeps a chimpanzee in his room to preserve a flicker of his past self, the Indian girl had renounced all of her past identity. Disparate from both the characters discussed in the previous passage, Troubled, on the other hand, was trying to pursue spiritual fulfillment by protecting what he believed was tatty.
He deserted his past self-identity and redirected his loyalty to serve Raven instead of attacking it. His situation is the direct opposite of the Indian girl’s and the ape’s as he sacrifices his physical well-being for his spiritual fulfillment. It should be noted that although the Indian girl initially transitioned from civilization to wilderness to preserve her life, she chose to remain in the wild when Forges’ grandmother offered to help her.
The girl’s eventual conversion is thus in part comparable to Dropout’s decision of fighting for Raven as both are triggered by a evaluation within the characters which is so strong that it causes them to redefine their identity and embrace it. In “Captivity’ (Louise Reedier 9), Reedier chronicles the captivity of Mrs.. Mary Rowland the Woman’s Indians. Although initially shocked and appalled by the barbaric behavior of the captors, the character eventually begins to adopt their way of life, most probably in order to preserve her life.
Through time, she began to find herself embracing the captors’ way of life. However, before she had fully converted into an “Indian”, she is confronted by her sat God (Rowland reveals that she was Puritan) to be reminded of her past identity and was “rescued” from the captors. But she was unable to fully revert back to her past self and longed to return to the wild as expressed in the poem “Rescued, I see no truth in things. My husband drives a thick wedge through the earth, still it shuts to him year after year” and “l stripped a branch and struck the earth, in time, begging it open to admit me… Similar to the situation in Forges’ story, the Indians’ way of life had moved something deep within the characters, and they had redefined homeless as a result. The two stories also Juxtapose nature against civilization to create certain perspectives on each domain. In these stories, nature can either be seen as a place of freedom, a sanctuary of life (as seen by the Indian girl), or it can be seen as a place of savagery, a domain of brutality and death. Civilization on the other hand, can be seen as captivity, the incarceration of one’s free will and movement, or it art (as seen by Troubled).
The ape on the other hand, is unique as it sees the two domains in all the forms described above, yet is unable to decide the domain in which it belongs. Perhaps a clearer idea of the dilemma between freedom and civilization can be understood through a passage from Sigmund Fraud’s writings: The liberty of the individual is no gift of civilization. It was greatest before there was any civilization, though then, it is true, it had for the most part no value, since the individual was scarcely in a position to defend it.
The development of civilization imposes restrictions on it, and Justice demands that no one shall escape those restrictions. What makes itself felt in a human community as a desire for freedom ay be their revolt against some existing injustice, and so may prove favorable to a further development of civilization; it may remain compatible with civilization. The urge for freedom, therefore, is directed against particular forms and demands of civilization or against civilization altogether. Sigmund Freud 82) Nature on the other hand, offers unrestricted freedom, although the value of the freedom is diminished as there is little safety in the wild for an individual to enjoy it. It should be noted that although physical freedom is lost in civilization, it is compensated by a spiritual redeem. In the safety of civilization, humans are free to pursue those which brings fulfillment to their souls be it art, religion or other forms of expressions. These pursuits will either be futile or ridiculous in the wild where there is constant danger from the surrounding.
Despite the safety and spiritual freedom, individuals tend to yearn for the wild at times; this could be due to our long ancestry in the wild. As Freud mentions in the same paragraph, It does not seem as though any influence could induce a man to change his nature into a termite’s. No doubt he will always fend his claim to individual liberty against the will of the group . (Sigmund Freud 82) The book “Into The Wild” shows an example in which civilization is seen as a prison. It chronicles the life of Christopher Mishandles.
Mishandles was a stellar student from Emory University. However, after his graduation in 1990, he abandoned his comfortable lifestyle to venture into the wild Non Krause)ii. Similar to Mishandles, many people live their life fantasizing about venturing into the wild. To understand why this might be, perhaps one can refer to two lines from the book Feeling, Being, and The Sense of Self Summary’ that reads: I saw that the more deeply Rachel experienced things, the more real and true they felt to her, and the more certain she was about them.
The times that Rachel felt that she was more truly “herself” were those which, at the same time, paradoxically, she had little or no sense of “l’ (Marcus West 10). These lines elucidate that an individual senses his/her true self not through thought process, but through constant experience of actions. There is a constant need for action and reaction in the wild due the dangers that rounds, and this might be the reason why individuals yearn to return to nature.
Each story by Forges and Kafka is a masterpiece, but the sum of value in considering the two stories together far exceeds that of each story alone. There is an unrivaled beauty in the two authors’ creationsвЂ?characters that are similar in many facets yet different in many others, characters that drive readers to ponder of the universal notion of self-identity and the roots from which it had sprouted. The stories weave the causation, the current state, and the perceptions regarding self-identity so that