Identity in the play the short story One Friday Morning
Identity refers to the state of maintaining one’s character under different conditions. Identity therefore relates to social situations such as gender, color, class, and community. In African American literature, identity can be experienced in social circumstances that are largely discriminatory. Discriminatory aspects that affect the blacks largely relate to oppression. This aspect molds the manner in which African Americans are confronted with dilemmas regarding their place within the white-dominated society. Ideally, the reality of the blacks cannot be separated in the American society because color provides an inherent phenomenon of identity that manifest in different races.
The aspect of race is important in the manner in which the African Americans manifest their identity among other identifiable or unidentified persons. The African Americans create their identities through their appearances. As such, identity allows people to categorize individuals into particular groups on the basis of their heritage.
One Friday Morning features a black girl, Nancy Lee, who is subjected to discrimination in school because of her bark skin color. She experiences so much disappointment due to the discrimination. Lee is a perfect match in consideration with her schoolmates in all aspects except the fact that she is black. Despite the discrimination from her schoolmates, Lee remains strong-willed and participates in many activities extra-curricular activities including being an active member of the Artist Club scholarship. Through her determination and resilience, Lee’s picture wins the Artist Club scholarship but she cannot share the news with her classmates following a request from Miss O’Shay. Subsequently, Miss O’Shay informs Lee that the club cannot present the award to her (Lee) because she is black (Hughes 153). Lee feels humiliated but she is not prepared to let the award dampen her spirits, she is determined to overcome the disappointment.
Langston Hughes attempts to nurture the African American awareness. At the same time, Hughes seems to inspire the establishment of an Afro-American literary narrative that eventually transforms into a literary struggle about the subject of self-identity. Racial segregation has for a long time been a feature of concern within the American society. Hughes through his One Friday Morning narrative tries to illustrate the extent of racial segregation in America’s daily life. Hughes’ story brings out the challenges if identity in a black literature. However, his work depicts the challenge of identity as one that emanates from the reality of bigoted social systems with their roots in the slavery practices.
Identity in the Play Trying to find Chinatown
In the play Trying to find Chinatown, the issue of identity is considered regarding the Chinese-American identity. This occurs when a Caucasian Asian-American (Benjamin Hwang) clashes with an integrated individual of the Asian ancestry (Ronnie) are engrossed in a debate regarding ethnic identity. Their debate is interesting and annoying at the same time. In the end there is no point that prevails. Hwang is very much aware of the Kansas culture having been brought up from the region. His cultural pride characterizes his liberal education that typifies the American education phenomenon. He is versed with the Asian-American studies having studied the same in the University of Wisconsin. Hwang is visiting the New York City for the first time to pay his last respects to his late father. His destination is Chinatown but he has never been there. He seeks direction from the Asian looking Ronnie (Hwang 281).
Ronnie is a violin player. Benjamin mistakes the violin for a fiddle, an error that leads to confrontation about race. Hwang argues that Ronnie should not judge him on the basis of his genetic culture alone. Although Ronnie’s appearance is so much like that of an Asia he knows little about the Asian culture or its justice lessons.
The Play "Trying to find Chinatown" and the short story "One Friday Morning" discuss the issues regarding racial identity. However, the two sources show that the true identity of an individual is not dependent on the physical identities but in one’s ability. This aspect is evidenced by Lee’s triumph in the Artist Club despite the white classmates who feel superior to Lee based on her skin color. Accordingly, this feature is ably illustrated by Ronnie. Despite his appearance that resembles an Asian, Ronnie is not ignorant regarding the Asian heritage. As such, the paly and the narrative tries to show that physical appearances o not really define a person. Both sources acknowledge the dilemmas and the challenges that many individuals from minority races in America face in an increasingly white-dominated society. The character of Miss O’Shay and the way she encourages Lee not to give up depicts the character of the white abolitionists who passionately fought for the abolition of discrimination against the African Americans. Miss O’Shay is a fundamentalist who is opposed to all forms of racial discrimination.
The sources illustrate the existing societal stereotypes regarding minority groups and how individuals are affected by the stereotypes to the extent of considering themselves inferior. Undoubtedly, both the story and the play reflect upon the subject of discrimination and its impact. However, Hughes narrative and Hwang’s play seem to encourage ethnic minorities to rise beyond mere rhetoric and the societal racial stereotypes and to follow their dreams to their fruition. From the foregoing, one can conclude that the challenges that African Americans, Caucasians, and other ethnic minorities face are not as easy as they may seem. Accordingly, changing a society that has deep-rooted racial issues is a daunting task but one that is possible through determination and resilience.
Hughes, Langston. Short Stories of Langston Hughes. New York: Hill and Wang, 1997.
Hwang, David Henry. Trying to Find Chinatown: The Selected Plays of David Henry Hwang.
New York: Theatre Communications Group Inc., 2000.
Hwang, David Henry. “Trying to Find Chinatown”. enotes. 2014. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.