Personal Identity, Culture and Outside Influences That Shape Who We Are

Published: 2021-06-25
699 words
3 pages
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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Various factors influence a persons identity or the way in which perceive things and express ourselves. These factors include everything that we do or even experience including family, environment, childhood, life experiences, social groups, gender, and sexuality. Childhood influences our personal identity since that the way we are brought up the impact on us religiously, economically and socially as we tend to inherit these characteristics from our parents. The environment is one of the key factors that affect and shape a persons identity as we tend to pick our features from our surroundings (Floridi & Luciano 549). Individuals who grew in different places will have entirely different personalities as various environments shape us differently.

The life experiences significantly shape our identity, for instance, traveling and experiencing different cultures impact how you see yourself and what you may value in life. Jobs that we work on and the schools that we usually attend shapes who we are. Gender identity has a great impact on how people see themselves. The social groups also shape a persons identity because the people you hang out with and even the friends you make help you shape your social identity, for example, teens usually group together with those they identify with most regarding fashion, music, activities or even personal strengths (Floridi & Luciano 554). Our culture shapes our cultural identity relating to the feeling of belonging to a particular group. The cultural identity and other outside influences shape our religion, nationality, ethnicity, generation, social class and other kinds of social groups as they all have a distinct culture.

The Yellow paper

In the Yellow Paper, Gilman uses symbols to tell the reader that the female narrator is powerless, and trapped in her situation. The narrator is blind and unaware of the cage she is confined initially. The narrator is blind, and her husband who is a doctor tries to treat her by isolating her in a dark place. Due to staying isolation, the narrator is almost losing her mind (Gilman & Charlotte Perkins et al. 27).Her husband can fool her that she only imagines her situation. Through various symbols, the writer can portray domination, oppression, and supervision that the narrator is living under, though rooted in good intentions they have adverse effects which contribute to her becoming mad (Gilman & Charlotte Perkins et al. 32).

Cathedral Story

In the Cathedral, there is also use of symbolism and point of view to show the narrators unjust and prejudice views. Carver through the use of perspective can convey to the reader the ignorant and judgmental nature of the narrator towards the blind man who has not done him any wrong. The blind man is not blind at all, but an interesting and pleasant person but the narrator is biased towards him. However, the blind man and the narrator shares a joint together with a sense of community established through trust and sharing. The surrounding environment makes the narrator in Cathedral to lessening his blinding prejudice (Lohafer & Susan 68).

Comparison of Cathedral Story and The Yellow paper

In both stories, Cathedral story and the Yellow Paper, the narrators can show us that the environment and where we live contributes to our personal identity. They also show that Culture plays a huge role in making us who we are, but we try to change as we grow up into what we believe represent our identity. Both authors employ symbolism and also the point of view to show epiphanies to protagonists which enable them to escape their situation and even what was previously constricting them. For the Yellow Paper, the break away from the oppression of the husband and the patriarchal society while the narrator and the dynamic character in the Cathedral is lessening his blinding prejudice. Therefore In both stories, the narrators can show us that the environment around us contributes to our personal identity and that the culture plays a huge role in making us who we are, but we try to change as we grow up into what we believe represent our identity


Floridi, Luciano. "The informational nature of personal identity." Minds and machines 21.4 (2011): 549.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The yellow wall-paper. Penguin UK, 2015.

Lohafer, Susan. "The short story." The Cambridge Companion to American Fiction After 1945 (2012): 68.

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