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Identity and Personal Attachments Essay


The formation of a person’s identify is shaped by various forces. Much attention is usually paid to his/her socio-economic environment. In particular, one can focus on the ethnic background of an individual, neighborhood, or class. However, it is important to speak about the role of attachments such as family or friends.

To a great extent, they play the role of mentors or trusted advisors whose opinion or values are respected by a person. Moreover, they eventually make independent choices which are based on their conceptions of ethics or rationality. These are the main aspects that can be identified. These questions have been examined in various works of literature and academic studies.

The role of personal attachment to other people is illustrated in the short story The Lesson by Toni Bambara. The author throws light on the experiences of a black girl named Sylvia who lives in a poor neighborhood. The writer shows how the values and attitudes of a child can be shaped by various people who can play the role of mentors. At first, one can speak about Miss Moore’s attempts to educate children by teaching them mathematical skills (Bambara 46).

She wants to make sure that children are willing to learn. To a great extent, she attempts to play the role of a mentor. However, Sylvia is more attached to the opinions and values of her best friend called Sugar. Sylvia is more likely to emulate the behavior of her friend. Only at the end of the story, it occurs to the protagonist that Miss Moore might have been right, and she attempts to think and act independently.

In his short story Eveline, James Joyce also speaks about a woman who recollects the past events of her life. In particular, she thinks about the forces that prompt her to leave her family. In this case, much attention should be paid to the behavior of the protagonist’s father who often resorted to violence. The narrator says that he relied on “blackthorn stick” to teach children (Joyce unpaged). His behavior is the main reason why Eveline does not feel any attachment to him. He failed to become a role model or a mentor for her family.

This is one of the main points that can be made. A very similar situation is described by Theodore Roethke in his poem My Papa’s Waltz. This author speaks about the child who is extremely disappointed with his father, especially his alcoholism (Roethke unpaged). These are some of the main aspects that should be considered. On the whole, one can say that literary works can throw light on the way in which the values of a person are shaped.

The development of identity is closely examined by many scholars. For instance, Arielle Deutsch et al. examine the factors that can increase the risk of delinquency. The authors argue that the failure of parents to become role models for children lead to their affiliation with deviant peers (Deutsch et al. 71). One can say that some teenagers can become the mentors of their coevals.

The main problem is that this situation often leads to the deviant behavior of a child and his/her rejection of many values such as education or compliance with the law. This is one of the main risks that should be considered. This is why researchers focus on the practices of parents (Robinson et al. 73). On the whole, educators and psychologists pay close attention the formation of a child’s identity. They argue that children are more likely to be engaged in crime, if they observe it on a regular basis (Milner 119).

Nevertheless, researchers also admit the role played by the so-called agents of socialization or people who shape the values of a person. Among these agents, one can distinguish parents, teachers, and peers (Berns 48). To a great extent, they can shape a child’s perception of the world and his/her treatment of other people. For instance, teenagers, who interact with deviant peers, may perceive drug abuse as something normal.

Nevertheless, it is critical to remember that a person’s ethical choices are critical for his/her development. This issue is explored in the literary sources analyzed in this paper. They show that an individual can take decisions that do not coincide with the values of his/her parents or peers. This is one of the issues that should not be overlooked.

Judging from my own experience, I can say that my parents and teachers were the main mentors in my life. They affected many of my values and priorities. To a great extent, I was able to resist the influence of peer pressure. Nevertheless, their influence became much weaker when I reached the age of adolescence.

On the whole, this analysis suggests that a person’s attachments and his/her social environment are critical for his/her development. Various literary and academic sources indicate that an individual’s values and priorities are formed through the interaction with parents, teachers, or peers. However, the characters discussed in this paper suggest that these people can take independent decisions.

Works Cited

Bambara, Toni. “The Lesson.” In Stitches: A Patchwork of Feminist Humor and Satire. Ed.Gloria Kaufman. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. 44-49. Print.

Berns, Roberta. Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support, 9th ed.: Socialization and Support, New York: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

Deutsch, Arielle, Lisa Crockett, Jennifer Wollf, and Stephen Russell. “Parent and Peer Pathways to Adolescent Delinquency: Variations by Ethnicity and Neighborhood Context.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 41. 1 (2012): 1078-1094. Print.

Joyce, James. Eveline. The Literature Network, n. d. Web. <>

Milner, Richard. Culture, Curriculum, and Identity in Education, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Print.

Robinson, Lara, Neil Boris, Sherryl Heller, Janet Ryce, Charles Zeanah. “The Good Enough Home? Home Environment and Outcomes of Young Maltreated Children.” Child Youth Care Forum, 41.3 (2012): 73-78. Print.

Roethke, Thomas. My Papa’s Waltz. PoemHunter. 3 Jan. 2003. Web.. <>.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Identity and Personal Attachments." January 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/identity-and-personal-attachments/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Identity and Personal Attachments'. 17 January.

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