The Myth of Self-Transformation Essay

We have been educated that both society and the ego are determined by constructions. Our coevals perceive the universe through the lens of thinkers—Freud. Marx. Darwin. to call a few—who believe that we are inhibited by deterministic factors such as our psychological science. our societal category. or our evolutionary demand for endurance. This lens puts into inquiry the viability of self-government and the possibility that sheer force of will alone can chase away obstructions in happening our individuality.

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In this essay. the writer will discourse three texts that illustrate how one can really get away the forces that determine him in order to detect his ain individuality. All three texts centre on characters whose life is influenced by instruction. Therefore. the writer of this essay proposes that instruction enables one to get away the forces that determine him for him to hammer an individuality of his ain ; nevertheless. such effort at self-transformation nowadayss itself to be a double-edged blade.

In 1965. Malcolm X. the ill-famed street streetwalker and African-American civil rights advocator. published an autobiography which includes a chapter in which he recounts his experience of self-cultivation while detained in a prison for seven old ages. Although considered a powerful leader of the black motion. Malcolm admits that his fluency was one that was native merely to the streets—that is. he was incapable of literacy. It was a affair that did non concern him the least until he found its restriction in showing his protagonism and matching with his wise man. Elijah Muhummad. Malcolm Ten recounts that his “homemade education” became a wonder for some which led them to ask about his educational background ( Malcolm X. 210 ) .

To their surprise. Malcolm X disclosed that his literacy was self-taught and that it was a merchandise of prison isolation and the desire to show himself on the written page. Norfolk Prison Colony. the prison installation where he was detained. proved to be a fertile topographic point for Malcolm X to acquire an instruction. What was antecedently a feeling of enviousness for a fellow captive named Bimbi. who earned the nickname of walking encyclopaedia because of his voluminous stock of cognition. evolved to go an drift for Malcolm X to edge his manner into larning hard words in books and finally. devouring hemorrhoids of them dark after dark inside the comfort of his prison cell.

As an Afro-american. Malcolm X had been subjected to racial favoritism throughout his life. He mentions in his autobiography that his ( myocardial infarction ) instruction in the American public school he attended was something shared by many African americans during his clip ( Malcolm X 213 ) . However. it was an experience that they can non do sense of. or at least readily articulate and relate to the favoritism prevalent in the Black American experience.

Education enabled Malcolm X to see his personal experience as a manifestation of the corporate white man’s attempt to “whiten” history and pass on the African-Americans to the troughs of society ( Malcolm X 213 ) . Literacy brought him the possibility of understanding the gravitation of his experience. transforming his cognition to include information about the planetary graduated table of favoritism and subjugation of other coloured people.

Ironically. it was through instruction that he became cognizant of his mis-education. Malcolm X was a merchandise of the forces runing in his society at that clip. Poverty and the dearth of chances left African-Americans bereft of instruction even at the most basic degree. The force of favoritism shaped their individualities. and for some. self-transformation was a losing conflict. Malcolm X’s experience in the prison settlement afforded him the clip to larn and from that larning. the power to will his ain transmutation at the face of opposing currents of racism.

Education enabled him to transform to the extent that his imprisonment became emancipating. It became his unconventional university from which he believed he learned more compared to those who get their grades in formal establishments. Literacy revealed to him the pleasance of larning which distracted him from the hurting of isolation he was sing.

This transformed position. nevertheless. was merely on the surface because as he revealed in his essay. his instruction “opened [ his ] eyes. bit by bit. wider and wider. to how the whole world’s white work forces so acted like devils” ( Malcolm X 215 ) . His freshly forged individuality. strengthened by his cognition of history. enabled him to understand his protagonism to the full and to pass on his thoughts better to make a wider base of audience. His transmutation reached the extent of doing Malcolm X. an illiterate street streetwalker in his young person. a noteworthy adult male of history. His work in the human rights motion opened the eyes of other African-Americans. lending to the pecking call for equality.

In the essay. Malcolm Ten does non speak about the cost of his transmutation. but it can be assumed that the universe which literacy opened to him was non merely a universe that incited his ardor to stand against racism. but one which besides revealed to him racial unfairnesss more blazing and ghastly than he had thought. In a manner. the initial cost of his instruction and self-transformation was agony and desperation for the cognition of the blazing breaching of human rights and a rush of sorrow for what he had gone through because of that sort of attitude.

Like in all signifiers of metabolisms. self-transformation involves a cost. In Malcolm X’s experience. the cost can be paralleled to the gap of a Pandora’s Box of cognition which leaves one with no pick but to transport the load of its weight inside one’s memory. Possibly. this load became the drift for Malcolm X to be more ardent and travel frontward in his call for racial equality.

However. in Richard Rodriguez instance. his experience seem to be a reversal of Malcolm X’s. in a sense that Rodriguez’s instruction led him to abandon it wholly in exchange for returning to a community which he had chosen to go forth before. In Rodriguez’s history of his instruction. he reveals the quandary a “scholarship student” like himself faces as he struggles between populating in two opposite universes. Education opened to him a universe that was starkly different from the community which he had learned to value and love.

As a immature pupil. Rodriguez was distressingly cognizant that he was different from his male parent and female parent chiefly because of their deficiency of instruction. He retells the many minutes when his male parent would neglect in assisting him with prep and when his female parent would often do grammatical mistakes which he did non waver on correcting. At presenting ceremonials in his school. he would fight with the sarcasm that people would state him how proud his parents must be of his accomplishments whereas inside of him. he was ashamed of his parents’ deficiency of instruction.

Coming from a propertyless household. Rodriguez was get downing to see how instruction was transforming him and easy insulating him from his household. He would come place from school confident and boasting about the things he learned in there merely to recognize that these things are foreign to his parents. something that they would non understand. He grew up look up toing his instructors more than his parents. Desiring to be like his knowing and refined instructors. he chose to be on the way of dividing himself from his household because he knew that merely through such determination would he be able to win in his surveies.

This determination was done at will because Rodriguez was rejecting the individuality that his household background was implementing to him. Turning up with this quandary. he decided to “reject his parents” and the community that nurtured him. He drowned himself in reading. believing that by absorbing every bit much information as he could. he would be at par with his adored wise mans. Rodriguez writes: “The scholarship male child reaches a different decision. He can non afford to look up to his parents. ( How could he and still prosecute such a contrary life? ) He permits himself embarrassment at their deficiency of education” ( Rodriguez 195 ) .

As Rodriguez progressed in his instruction. he learned to bury about his past life with his household and abandon all “nostalgia” by burying himself to analyzing. Rodriguez tells that at that point of voraciously devouring books. he thought he was hammering an individuality for himself. one that was different from his household. Yet. as he became more cognizant of his purdah. he faintly realized how lonely he was and unconfident despite the fact that he was deriving information by springs and bounds.

Convinced that the he was turning more and more different as he gained exponentially from his instruction. the “scholarship boy” shortly found out that his insatiate appetency for cognition was a manner of stop uping the hollow part of his bosom which resulted from his witting determination to abandon his household and isolate himself from them. Rodriguez quotes a Richard Hoggart. psychologist who discussed the quandary of the scholarship male child:

He longs for the rank he lost. “he pines for some Nameless Eden where he ne’er was. ” The nostalgia is the stronger and the more equivocal because he is truly “in pursuit of his ain absconded ego yet scared to happen it. ” He both wants to travel back and yet thinks he has gone beyond his category. feels himself weighted with cognition of his ain and their state of affairs. which hereafter forbids him the simpler pleasances of his male parent and female parent. ( Rodriguez 201 ) .

In Rodriguez’s autobiography. his desire for scholarship led him off from his existent individuality. Scholarship afforded him a manner to get away his individuality. but it turned him into person even he could non acknowledge. His froward transmutation reached the extent of losing a portion of himself. go forthing him invariably in hunt for something which books could non give him.

This was the cost of his transmutation. It was non until he was thirty. while working on his thesis on English Renaissance. when he was able to garner the bravery to confront his desire and succumb to the yearning of his bosom for the self-generated and simple company of his parents. In the austere halls of the British Museum. Rodriguez decided to abandon his instruction to “turn afraid to the desired past” ( Rodriguez 205 ) . With a run of sarcasm. Rodriguez comes to a decision that it was instruction which alienated him from his household. but it was besides instruction which equipped him in doing sense of that disaffection.

Self-transformation through instruction is besides a subject in the 19Thursdaycentury novel by Horatio Alger about the rags-to-riches narrative of a street male child named Ragged Dick. Of the three texts presented in this essay. possibly this fictional narrative is more expressed about the power of self-government. Although some critics of the fresh point out to the luck factor in most of the important minutes in Ragged Dick’s life ( Burns 57 ) . his narrative. however. picture how finding transforms a individual. successfully get the better ofing the forces which had shaped his life.

Ragged Dick is a fourteen-year old shoeblack who lived his childhood in the streets. His natural appeal and marbless enabled him to last the barbarous streets of New York. He grew up to be a persevering worker and a wise Spender of his net incomes. Alger characterizes the immature male child to be aristocratic-looking with a Frank and unfastened face. a fact which points out the function which opportunity or luck drama in the narrative. However. Geck explains that Alger mixes the component of fortune and aspiration in the narrative of Ragged Dick to portray how fortunes become powerless in the face of never-say-die aspiration ( “Novels of Horatio Alger Jr. ” ) .

Towards the in-between portion of the narrative. Ragged Dick meets another orphan kid by the name of Henry Fosdick. Unlike Ragged Dick. this male child was able to go to school before his male parent passed off. After delivering Henry from a pack of street toughs. Ragged Dick invites him to remain at his house in exchange for learning him how to read and compose. In depicting the common qualities of the heroes in Alger’s novels. Geck points out that the desire for instruction is of primary importance to the supporters of Alger’s narratives because it is through instruction that one is able to suit in society ( “The Novels of Horation Alger Jr. ” ) .

Despite the fact that Ragged Dick seem to last the street and win favours from frequenters. he desires to be more than a street smart child. His desire for instruction reflects his pursuit to hammer an individuality for himself that is contrary to what was enforced to him both by his fortune and his society. As fulfilment of the American Dream manner of the narrative ( Burns 57 ) . Ragged Dick finds his manner to a corporate occupation as a clerk for a company owned by a affluent Mr. Rockefeller. whose girl Ragged Dick was able to salvage fortunately from submerging.

Similar to Malcom X and Richard Rodriguez. the transmutation of Ragged Dick did non come without a monetary value. At the terminal of the narrative. when asked for his signature. Ragged Dick changed his name to Richard Hunter. one of the many name alterations he had undergone throughout the class of the narrative. This begs the inquiry whether such drastic transmutation is deserving losing one’s individuality for. This besides raises the inquiry whether this act was a consequence of a genuinely complete transmutation or was it a falsely realized individuality.

Through these three texts. it was made clear that there is a possibility for one to be self-determined despite the incredulity of our modern doctrines. Some may refer to self-transformation as a myth. but instruction affords one to really organize an individuality despite the forces which have molded him for old ages or impeded him from to the full realizing his potency. However. the texts engaged in this essay do non idealise self-transformation as they reveal its double-edged consequences. Self-transformation costs the self-determined single something of his or her individuality and consciousness. The texts suggest that self-transformation presents the possibility that one can ne’er return to how he or she was earlier.

Plants Cited

Alger. Horatio Jr. “Excerpt from Ragged Dick. ”Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for

Critical Thinking and Writing 7Thursdayerectile dysfunction.Eds. Gary Colombo. Robert Cullen. Bonnie Lisle.

Boston: Bedford/St. Martin. 2007. 264-269.

Burns. Gerald. “The American Dream at Home and Abroad: Notes on an International Cultural

Myth. ”Journal of English Studies and Comparative Literature9. 1 ( March

2006 ) : 56-63. 26 January 2009 & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //journals. upd. edu. ph/index. php/jescl/article/viewFile/296/282 & gt ;

Geck. John A. “Novels of Horatio Alger Jr. ”University of Rochester. 2009. 26 January 2009

& lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //www. lib. Rochester. edu/camelot/cinder/ragged. htm & gt ;

Malcolm X. “Learning to Read. ”Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for

Critical Thinking and Writing 7Thursdayerectile dysfunction.Eds. Gary Colombo. Robert Cullen. Bonnie Lisle.

Boston: Bedford/St. Martin. 2007. 210-218.

Rodriguez. Richard. “Achievement of Desire. ”Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for

Critical Thinking and Writing 7Thursdayerectile dysfunction.Eds. Gary Colombo. Robert Cullen. Bonnie Lisle.

Boston: Bedford/St. Martin. 2007. 193-205.