The Narrator's Identity In 'I Think, Therefore I Am'

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This phrase, as it pertains to this novel, is reminiscent of the narrator’s own view concerning his identity. He wishes to perceive himself one way, and thus takes this as his identity. Upon his arrival in Harlem, the narrator wishes to discard his southern past and identity, and ultimately reinvent himself. He then begins to perceive himself as the very thing he wishes to become, rejecting all thoughts suggesting otherwise. At the beginning of chapter 8, the narrator states that “[he] could hardly believe that [he] was so far away from home, yet there was nothing familiar in [his] surroundings,” except for his Gideon Bible, which makes him homesick, resulting in him setting the book aside. He then goes on to say “This was New York. I had to…show more content…
His identity relates wholly, to the narrator, to how he defines himself. His search for an identity of his own is complicated by the racism of American society, and he is continuously burdened by assumptions and expectations about how blacks are supposed to act. The narrator, as he passes through a series of communities, takes on a different identity in accordance to each different idea of how blacks should behave in society. Upon trying to define himself through societal norms and expectations, he finds that each of these prescribed roles seems to disregard and limit his complexity as an individual and thus force him to take on an inauthentic identity, or self-perception. Consequently, he is unable to act according to his true personality and values and thus unable to be himself. The phrase “I think; therefore I am” pertains mostly to one’s own manner in which they view themselves, and highlights rational thought as the definitive attribute of the individual. While one’s culture and environment can most certainly play a part in the manner in which a person thinks, it is mainly the individual who plays a part in their self-perceived identity. They can either reject or accept aspects of themselves, however, they cannot completely disregard it, as experiences shape who a person is and serve to explain certain aspects of

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