Identity and childhood education as a woman
Identity and Childhood Education
It is evident, with reference to the books we have covered this semester that the identities of the female characters therein have been determined by their mothers and their racial identity crises (Rishoi 38). Being a Japanese woman, I understand that the education system of Japan was modified after WW2. Although the system allowed students to have their opinions on politics and society, the Japanese people themselves did not change. There is a Japanese proverb originated from the Japanese Emperor Military system of education which dictated that the Japanese were required to obey strictly whatever it was that the Emperor told them to do. That implied that the students were not entitled to their views but were tied to their teacher. Anyone that stood up with a contrary opinion from what the teacher thought was right was in deep trouble. Having been part of this education system, I was shocked to find out that in the United States students are free to express their various opinions comprehensively. From this experience, apart from the identity of being Japanese, I realize that there is a close relationship between identity and childhood education (Brenner 23).
Having read novels like Wide Sargasso Sea, we get to know that every culture creates their systems of education (Chojnacka 30). In this book, Antoinette’s mother has a mental ailment, and the daughter gets into an identity crisis, not knowing whether to belong to her English father’s people or her mother’s Caribbean community. The same thing happens to Antoinette once again when she gets married to English husband. Unlike her mother who also had wished to be taken to England, Antoinette is lucky to go to England but doesn’t find it as enjoyable as she had imagined. The identity problems here are two folded; racial and geographical.
As for me, a great relationship exists between my mother and Antoinette’s story. Being a feminist woman, she hated Japanese retrogressive norms and hated being a housewife. Just like Antoinette, I always wished to follow my mother’s feminism and tackle the conventional norms of the land.
In Heremakhonon, we meet Veronica, a character that is yet to know her identity. At first she believes her identity can be traced back to Africa, but is disappointed and irritated when she comes to her ancestral land and finds Africans drawing lifestyle inspirations from the Western culture. She finds herself odd and West Africans keep asking her where she comes from. In an article by Akosua Adoma Owusu, a US filmmaker with Ghanian parentage in Rochester Art Centre, Owusu says that many Africans are distinct and thus do not always identify with African –American culture and history. As Owusu’s film works, we see identity confusion amongst the immigrants. Focusing on hair salons, Owusu expresses her shock with how African women imitate Western hairstyles in salons as it is well seen in her work, Me Broni Ba (My White Baby). It seems both Veronica and Owusu find differences between Africa and them. As a result, they end up identifying themselves with neither the African nor Western culture.
Sanches sometimes says the conflicting ideas of multiculturalism and hybridity do not exclude ideas of differences based upon notions of culture. This is a conflict that does not only make the minority be isolated but also have identity disorders. Do only races have categorized identity? No, in Heremakhonon, Veronica is seen presuming that she would find herself in West Africa but she ends up not figuring out what she is. Sanches also adds that formation of identities are not only done by historical processes and differently narrated and evoked, but also by geography. One’s identity comes from where they grew up. The education system and the environment also shape the uniqueness of a person (Kirkman 34).
We have got several forms of education systems in the world. Bonnie Morris, a great historian, says Hasidic boys dress up with Jewish dress and go to school. Their distinctive appearance shows the Hasidic boys what they are from their parents. In Wide Sargasso Sea, even after the colonization ages, Antoinette’s mother keeps servants in her house. Antoinette is allowed to dress up in Western noble costumes so she may be used to them. Being a Caribbean woman, having grown up as an English woman, Antoinette education forms an English identity but her actual identity is the Caribbean where she grew up. This stirs up a conflict between her and her husband, Rochester. There should be no contradiction between education as it creates the identity of persons as they grow, be it religiously, culturally, racially and regionally, failure to which there develops an identity confusion is a person (Danticat 30).
The major identity methods of females normally vary with cultures. Mostly, identity is taught to boys and girls through basic education using languages, and fashions in the society. The Canadian organization Minister for Health published a text of how children can be educated on differences between the two sexes. This can be achieved by using a language that is more inclusive so as to make the transgender feel accepted in schools and other learning institutions (Davidson 78).
Veronica, in Heremakhonon, wants to be a pure black girl despite the fact that she one time goes to France. She admires her mother, and she is ashamed of the desires that are put at stake by the education she peruses. On the contrary, Amabelle, a girl in The Farming of Bones that doesn’t get the influence of her mother during her childhood. She is orphaned at a tender age and becomes the property of Papi, who helps her after the death of her parents. During that time, there arises a conflict between the Dominicans and the Haitians, in which the poor girl finds herself though later she seems to grow a happy life. The ordeals that take place at the beginning of the novel throw Amabelle into confusion as she sees Papi’s son-in-law killing a sugarcane worker. Her identity is divided into being Papi’s property and being a female sugarcane worker. The aspect of being a worker for livelihood keeps the poor girl happy but being the property of Papi makes her irrelevant when it comes to decision –making.
In the same novel, The Farming of Bones some expressions suggest the possibilities of women being referred to by use of their physical appearance. All that depends on who expresses it and the motivation behind. If it comes from her boyfriend desires, we question whether a woman’s identity is determined by their male friends or partners desires as the expression might not be true (Layne 75). Gardiner says during adolescence a young woman spends her time searching for a man for intimacy and identity. As controversial as this could sound, in this novel we come across many young ladies that wish they were loved by male characters, for instance, Amabelle whose story leans towards her boyfriend all throughout the book. Even after the demise of Sebastien. She may as well want to keep her identity as someone’s property.
Gathering from the different global perspective’s female novels, it becomes clear that female characters created their identities (Gregory 30). Some them, however, depend on the opinions and relationships that they have with other characters. Veronica, Antoinette, and Amabelle depend on the male characters. They need to be creative and independent enough for them to be on their own and shape their identity. Unfortunately, the social principles do not allow break loose from identity crises (Miller 70). They do not have enough social space to reason out on their own. There is a great need to see how females will ever live without male characters as not only men made this world but they too have the power to control their environment and hence their identity.
The following lessons can also be drawn from the three novels, that families that are made of parents drawn from different geographical regions can create a rift between the touch they have towards their environment and the reality they are meant to identify themselves with (Kincheloe 80). Antoinette is a good example. She is also a perfect example of racial identity conflicts among children born of parents of different races. When she goes to school in the Caribbean, she is not sure of whether to identify herself with her mother’s community in or her white father from the West.
Brenner, Philip. A Contemporary Cuba Reader: Reinventing the Revolution. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008. Print.
Chojnacka, Monica. Ages of Woman, Ages of Man Sources in European Social History, 1400-1750. London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis, 2014. Print.
Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of Bones: A Novel. New York, NY: Soho, 1998. Print.
Kincheloe, Joe L. The Praeger Handbook of Education and Psychology. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2007. Print.
Kirkman, Kristi M. Wide Sargasso Sea: The Sargasso Sea as Metaphor. 2000. Print.
Layne, Prudence. Dreams and Death Become Reality in Edwidge Danticat’s the Farming of Bones. 1999. Print.
Miller, D. Quentin. The Generation of Ideas: A Thematic Reader. Boston, Mass.: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005. Print.
Rishoi, Christy. From Girl to Woman: American Women’s Coming-of-age Narratives. Albany: State U of New York, 2003. Print.