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Yuridiana Morales Professor Altman English 115 December 10, 2013 Shaping Our Identity Sometimes many people believe that they form their own identity, which is partially true. In reality, identity is constructed by ones surroundings. As individuals we create our identity

by choosing to be, from what we have been taught, the ideal person. Amy Tan author of
Mother Tongue and Henry Louis Gates Jr. author of A Giant Step both write about how their identities were shaped by outside factors. My personal experience as well had an influence on my identity. Both of these stories and my experience discuss how family, racism, class, and religion developed each one of us into the person we are today. Ones family is an aspect that is partly responsible for the kind of person someone comes out to be. The way an individuals family speaks, eats, or does things affects one in determining who they are going to become. Amy Tan author of Mother Tongue talks about how her family made her into a more understanding and determined women. She grew up in a neighborhood where education wasnt encouraged. Her mother ever since she could remember was not able to communicate as clearly as others. At one point she says, My mothers limited English limited my perception of herI began to write stories using theEnglish I spoke to my mother (Tan 635-638). She was embarrassed about her mother, but came to learn how difficult it was for her mom. Her mother couldnt perfectly express herself. Amy Tan became into a person who was understanding of the people like her mother. She knew their needs and therefore began to write books in an adequate language. She wanted individuals, who had little education, to be able to

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get through a book without any complications. Even though Amy Tan learned how to make the best out of her situation it also stumbled her. Amy Tan indicates, It affected my results on achievement testsI also happen to be rebellious in nature and enjoy the challenge of disapproving assumptions made about me (Tan 636-638). Her familys lower English level made it a bit difficult in school. However, the negative comments from her peers encouraged her to prove them wrong. Her disadvantage became her motivation. She continued writing, revising, and editing her short stories every day. By working hard she was able to major in English and prove her professors wrong. This led her to become determined, from that point on, to prove that she was more than what was thought of her. Family will always have a bearing on the individuality of one. Besides our family, race is another factor in the creation of identity. Henry Louis Gates Jr. speaks about how his race made him want to become a doctor, but unfortunately prevented him from becoming one. His race made him into a strong and kind person. Henry Louis Gates Jr. writes about how he wanted to break apart from the usual jobs that affiliate his African American race. Instead of occupying a low paying job he wanted to work his way up to medical school. However, all of that changed after a horrible incident occurred. One day at school he injured himself and had to get it checked out. The doctor who examined him broke his foot instead of fixing it. As the doctor examined he commented, Theres not a thing wrong with that child. The problem's psychosomatic. Your son's an overachiever (Gates Jr. 1). The doctor saw him as a low class kid who was in over his head. The fact that he was anticipated for failure, motivated him to become a doctor. He began to use his free time to study hard and memorize medical terms. Henry Louis Gates Jr. could have easily given up, but didnt. Those hateful

words made him get back up and stand up even stronger. He wanted to break the stereotypical

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path of an African American. Although the doctors destructive words were used as

motivation it wasnt easy to ignore the truth it held. Henry Gates Jr. also adds by saying, A
colored kid who thought he could be a doctor -- just for instance -- was headed for a breakdown (Gates Jr. 2). The doctors racism made him walk away from his dream and choose a path that wasnt much desired. At the beginning, he wanted to be a doctor because he thought they were supposed to help out people, but he apparently learned that they dont. He didnt want to become like the kind of person his doctor was. He acquired a respectful and kind attitude towards others due to his racist experience. He didnt want other individuals to go through the same experience he did. His social class provoked negative responses that discouraged him, yet made him stronger. As much as we tried to avoid it, religion is a huge influence when constructing an identity. Becoming a Christian at a very young age impacted me greatly. The morals and laws of God made me into the woman I am now. For example, in a Christian community we cannot drink or have vices. As I was growing up those words stuck with me. I started forming into a young lady who began to have morals and respect herself. I dont drink or have any vices. Looking around me, I see girls who get drunk or get crazy. I then realize how my religion has guided me to be more conservative. My religion also states that we must not hate or hold resentment towards another human being. Basically, my religion engaged me to be someone that doesnt hate another person or hold a grudge for too long. This reflects the person I am now which is a very forgiving and understanding lady. An individuals religion shapes their identity by telling them what to keep in mind, what is right, and what one cannot do. A persons religion is also a part of their cultures tradition. Each persons tradition has norms which may have been

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created around ones religion or community. So, in a way tradition also sculpts each individual. Those little details will often be taken into consideration. Our families, class, and religion are one of the few causes that inspire our formation of identity. Many of us dont notice that our surroundings made us into who we are. Developing an identity is very important because ones identity is a pathway for many people to perceive them in a positive or negative manner. Many individuals are lost or confused and thus question who or what they are. The truth is that each persons unique identity is being formed by outside factors without them being consciously aware of it. Amy Tan, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and myself described how we all evolved into the person we are today.

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Works Cited Tan, Amy. "Mother Tongue." The Norton Field Guide To Writing With Readings. Third ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 633-39. Print. Gates, Henry Louis. "About Men; A Giant Step." The New York Times. John Spencer Bassett, 09 Dec. 1990. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.