The Inseparability of Self and Identity Essay

977 Words4 Pages
Lit 5-125 Workshop in Critical Writing: Poetry 20 December 2012 The Inseparability of the Past and Identity The idea of the past has always been a matter of concern to people. Ha Jin’s poem “The Past” touches upon this concern by trying to trace the significance that the past holds for each individual and how it is supposed to be linked to one’s present and being. Through some kind of internal monologue, the speaker is making an effort to deal with his own past, to understand it and accept it. Although he is uncertain of how to do this in the beginning, he gradually takes it for granted and decides to make the best out of it, transforming it into a renewed self-image based on his needs. In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker expresses his initial thoughts and feelings about his past. He sees his past as an inseparable part of himself that has to be accepted the way it is passively. In order to better illustrate this, he draws a parallel between his past and his shadow: “As my shadow appears whenever I’m in the sun/ The past cannot be thrown off and its weight/ Must be borne, or I will become another man” ( ll. 2-4). Thinking of his shadow’s function, the speaker comes to identify it with his past. Just like his shadow is the reflection of his silhouette that always follows him in its most accurate form under the glare of sunlight, similarly his past is the reflection of his inner being and character, which is kept alive by the act of remembering old experiences. He can be separated neither from his shadow, nor his past, because avoiding his shadow would be impossible, whereas forgetting his past would mean losing his identity. Not wanting that, the speaker thinks he has to learn to carry on with the weight of his past on his shoulders and accept his inability to change that. Throughout the rest of the poem though, this initial

More about The Inseparability of Self and Identity Essay

Open Document