Synthesis Essay Question
The stories, “Identities”? and “Mistaken Identity”?, are generally similar since they depict the consequences experienced by the different main characters regarding their mistaken identities. The poem “Mistaken Identity”?, by Alden Nowlan shows two different situations where two women mistake the protagonist for a person they knew and portray intimacy for him whom the women perceive him to be is entirely wrong. On the other hand, the short story, “Identities”?, by W.D Valgardson portrays the consequences met by the protagonist, a middle class parent, regarding the issue of wrong identity.
In order to set the mood for the two literary works concerning the theme, various tones have been used to clarify. Irony, loneliness and anxiety are the main tones evident in the narratives. To enable analysis of the written works, it is important to assess the different variations in tone in the stories.
Both writings exhibit a variety of tones, which demonstrates the consequences of mistaken identity.
One of the main tones apparent in both stories is loneliness. In “Mistaken Identity”?, solitude is evident where a fat woman who smelled of beer approaches the protagonist. The woman kisses him and the protagonist states that he is lonesome and was almost tempted to assume the identity that the woman was implying. It is stated, “and I was so lonesome”? (Nowlan, 15) showing the protagonist”s loneliness. The protagonist confirms his despair by reluctantly declaring to the first woman that he is mistakenly identified hoping that the woman will continue expressing her feelings of intimacy.
This is evidenced where he says, A?before I spoke, she had realized that and was pushing me away? (Nowlan, 25-26). Instances of loneliness are also evident in “Identities”?. In the story, the protagonist experiences feelings of solitude. This is shown where the protagonist feels like temporarily abandoning the comforts of the suburb. He decides to lonely explore without having any destination in mind. This is indicated in two instances where the author states, “wakes in him a desire to temporarily abandon the twice-cut yards and hundred-year-old oaks”? (Valgardson, 1-2) and when he states, “He does not hurry for he has no destination? (Valgardson, 1-2) which affirm the protagonist solitude. Both pieces use loneliness in order to allow the reader feel the mood of the protagonists.
Variation in tone that is also identified in both stories is anxiety. In Mistaken Identity?, the protagonist reacts differently to the woman warm greeting by avoiding her hastily through turning away from her as if she was posing danger, which is affirmed when the protagonist states, “I very quickly turned away? (Nowlan, 39-41). The protagonist also expresses stress where he decides to identify himself correctly to the first woman who had also mistakenly identified him as her lover, Walter. In order to avoid the consequences that could arise from his mistaken identity, the protagonist decides to tell the woman his real identity. He states, “what I did was mumble something about there being a mistake”? (Nowlan, 20-23). Anxiety is also evident in “Identities”?. The tone is depicted by the protagonist reveals stress when he sees a group of suspicious looking people. This is shown where the author states, “he hopes his day old beard which he strokes upward with the heel of his hand”? (Valgardson, 8) which affirms his concern of him being mugged. Anxiety determines the decisions the protagonists made in their respective and different decisions.
Irony is also another tone that is identified in the two narratives. For instance, in “Mistaken Identity”?, the protagonist states, “It’s good sometimes to be mistaken for someone else, although it usually ends badly”? (Nowlan, 5). This indicates verbal irony in which the protagonist acknowledges that being mistakenly identified is disadvantageous but at the same time asserts that it is advantageous to be recognized as another person. In the same story, irony is also seen where the protagonist admires the attention of being mistakenly identified as Davie, but he decides to avoid the attention even though it is frightening. He states, “Then, because I wanted her to keep smiling at me, lovingly, I very quickly turned away”(Nowlan, 35-40). Irony is also noted in “Identities” where the protagonist is killed by the police officer, instead of the group of people that were outside the small store. An irony of situation occurs towards the end of the story when “He is so intent upon the three men and the girl that he does not notice the police car drift against the curb, nor the officer who is advancing with a pistol in his hand”?(Valgardson, 10-11) and “Instinctively relaxing, certain of his safety, in the last voluntary movement of his life, he reaches his hand not in the air as he was ordered to, but toward his wallet for his identity”? (Valgardson, 10-11), the author depicts the protagonist” ironical death. Irony plays an important role in depicting the consequences of mistaken identity.
Both stories noticeably outlay the theme of identity and its consequences. In “Mistaken Identity”, identity plays a role in the identification of the protagonist. The story depicts the protagonist ” status as mistaken. The first example is seen where the fat woman incorrectly identifies the protagonist as Walter. In the second example, a young woman as Davie mistakenly identifies the protagonist. In “Identities”, the consequences of identity are noticed by the protagonist is seen as a criminal due to his unshaved beard, contrasting attire and the fact that he was driving a Mercedes Benz. He ends up being shot by the police officer who mistakenly classifies him as a car thief. To allow for the development of the theme, irony, loneliness and anxiety are used to exemplify the main subject of the stories since the tones play a role in establishing the roles of identity in both narratives.
Nowlan, Alden. “Mistaken Identity.” Selected Poems. Ed. Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier. Concord: House of Anansi Press, 1996. 72. Print
Valgardson, W.D. “Identities.” What Can’t Be Changed Shouldn’t Be Mourned: Short Stories. Ed. W.D Valgardson. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1995. 56. Print.