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Split at the Root by Adrienne Rich - Essay Example

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Adrienne Rich confronts her fears of silence and complacence on identity in order to expose that she has been trying to fit into the various kinds of identities that she has been forced to adopt. Throughout the text, the author explores the various forms of influences that have shaped her individual identity…
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Split at the Root by Adrienne Rich
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"Split at the Root by Adrienne Rich"

Download file to see previous pages The author also traces a large amount of influence on her identity stemming from the shadows of her father. These influences not only affected her social persona but also her literary persona as well. Rich claims that her mother was gentile in comparison to her father and that she has her “Jewishness from him and not from my gentile mother”. The author sees the influence of her father as pervasive and even overwhelming at times in terms of his influence on her identity. Given the backdrop of the Second World War and the years leading up to it, the author is seen beginning to reflect on life as a growing adult. Her father can be seen as a person caught in limbo. On the one hand he is Jewish but he rejects his Jewish roots in order to claim greater breathing space in life. The author claims that her father does not complain of any anti Semitic attitudes diverted towards him. Moreover he rejects institutionalized religion and this can be seen when he asks Rich to read from Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason after she comes back from church. He explains that this would provide her with “a balanced view of these things, a choice”. ...
“”pushy” Jews of New York, the “loud, hysterical” refugees from Eastern Europe, the “overdressed” Jews of the urban South” all contributed to the author’s image of distancing herself from a Jewish identity. Her visit to the immigrant old woman proves that the author just wanted to keep her distance from being Jewish. When asked by the old woman if the author was Jewish, the author immediately replied in negative and this reaction can be seen as more or less of an impulse than a calculated move. The influence of Rich’s father can be seen as acting prominently in this event. His disassociation from his Jewish identity can be seen as an overwhelming influence on the author’s life and identity. However the influence of the author’s mother can be seen as very prominent too. The author’s mother can be seen as exerting Christian values and identity onto the author. For example when the author is filling out her forms for admission to college her mother stresses that she should list her Christian sect rather than answering as none to the question of religion. Furthermore the author relates that her mother used to take her to church which can also be seen as a method to indoctrinate Christian values in children. In her later life, the author visits a synagogue for the first time in Baltimore which signifies that her Jewish identity had been severed at the expense of her Christian identity. Moreover the author was influenced by her mother to display a very “gentile” social behavior. Rich was told to dress as simply as possible and to be as well spoken as possible by her mother to display the “good breeding” instilled in her. She also relates that there was much talk of “ancestry” and “background” in the “southern talk of the family” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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