Green Angel by Alice Hoffman - Literature of Human Identity

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For the most part, I was never too much of a ‘fiction’ reader. I mean stories that are centered around teenage romances or tragedies, events of the day-to-day world we live in. I have always enjoyed fantasy novels and epic stories much more, as they are true escapes from the ‘real’ world. Yet, there are few fiction stories, centered on the real world, that have captured my heart, showing me that the real world also obtains great tragedy. The novel, Green Angel by Alice Hoffman is one of those novels, one that can centers itself around tragedy, and how people cope with such devastation. The story is focused on a fifteen-year old girl named Green, whose life takes a disastrous one-eighty – her entire family killed by a tragic fire that sweeps throughout the city her house outskirts, and temporarily blinds her. The novel is able to entwine human tragedy with human identity beautifully, allowing Green to realize who she really is and what she can be. Humans often struggle with their identity, unsure if they are playing a part and imitating the actions of others or if their voice is really their own. For Green, the protagonist of Hoffman’s novel, she is unsure of this as well. When her parents and her sister Aurora die, she is unable to cope with the pain, as her family was everything to her. So, in order to escape the pain, the void inside of her chest, she creates a new persona for herself: she cuts her hair, wears Gothic clothing (such as a scarf of thorns, a heavy-jean jacket, and her father’s nail-studded boots) and comes up with the new name of Ash (a name that symbolizes that the life she knew before, has all gone to ashes.) This persona she creates is meant to be a motif of how humans most often are unable to cope with such devastation – in order to keep sane, they either cling onto something or void themselves of all emotion, as Green, now Ash does. The

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