Who Am I: The Impact Of Self-Perception And Actions On Identity

Introduction

“Alright, everyone, let’s go around in a circle; just share your name, age, and one fun fact about you so we can get to know each other.” What is my fun fact? A terrifying question. How could I possibly sum up my entire existence into one single fun fact? I’ve always been told first impressions are incredibly important, so that means this fun fact will leave a lasting impact on the rest of the circle, right?

The Dilemma of Self-Definition: “Who Am I?”

We’ve all been in this situation. Small talk is an inevitable side effect of making new friends. Here are some even scarier questions: What makes you special? What are your talents? What makes you you?

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Look, I’m not double-jointed. I can’t juggle three tennis balls at once. I can’t ride a bike with no handlebars. I’m just me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m an interesting guy. I’m just average at many different things. I’m fascinated by history, but I couldn’t quite name all the U.S. presidents in order. I thoroughly enjoy music but have never gotten around to crafting a perfect melody. So who am I if there’s nothing outstanding about me?

For a long time, I struggled to understand why this was something I spent so much time thinking about. It was all-indulging. How could I even begin to get to understand people beyond the surface level if I can’t even come up with one good fun fact about myself? I thought I needed to have a specific persona to identify by. Until something happened that helped me realize I don’t have to.

A Role as a Peacemaker: The Impact of Family on Identity

My mother has anxiety; my father has bipolar disorder. My sister is diagnosed with both. I guess she got the short end of the stick on that one. I don’t mean to brag, but at a summer camp I attended in fifth grade, I got a tiny plastic medal for the “Most Chill” superlative. And this is true within my family as well. I spend lots of time trying to soothe tensions that often arise within my family. I love them all very much, and it pains me to see them fight all the time. I’m no therapist; I just naturally assume the role of peacemaker. Someone has to.

One night in October two years ago, my sister was facing the ultimate test of adolescence, also known as the college application process. She would have breakdowns every now and then about her friends, school, sports, or any other source of stress in her life. It would be natural for her to get into emotionally violent confrontations with my parents. And this time was no different.

After all the yelling and door-slamming had subdued me, I walked into my mother’s room to try and console her. Before I even got to say anything, she gave me a simple “Thank you.”

“For what?” I said.

“For being you.”

Such a simple conversation has had a huge impact on my personality ever since. I had never realized that my presence had that much of an impact on her. Telling her everything was going to be okay was just a habit. But I guess that’s who I am.

Conclusion: Discovering the Authentic Self

I’m more aware of my actions now and how they shape what people think of me. Way back in fifth grade, the person I displayed on the outside came across as being “chill.” So that’s why I try to be the best possible version of myself, because what we do shapes who we are. No palm reading, horoscope, or Buzzfeed quiz will tell you who you are. Just awareness of how your actions come across to other people. I guess next time I end up in an icebreaker circle, I’ll just crack some joke that makes me seem cool and approachable. After all, maybe telling people I got a medal for being “Most Chill” is a good way to start.

 

The Monkey’s Paw: Theme Of Wishing In Comparison With ‘The Third Wish’

Introduction: Themes of Wishing: “The Third Wish” and “The Monkey’s Paw”

Both stories involved different characters with three wishes. But there are huge differences, including the way they wish. In the tale “The Third Wish,” Mr. Peter wishes for love since his life wasn’t completed. While in the story “The Monkey’s Paw” was based on greed and the urge for wealth. Also, after the first wish in the monkey’s paw, it took the life of another, while “The Third Wish” brought happiness and joy…But only for a little.

Consequences of Wishing: Diverging Outcomes

Earlier in the story, Mr.White buys the monkey’s paw even though the previous owner lists the consequences. When Mr.White wished for 200 pounds to help pay for the house, a representative came and told them about the loss of their son, giving them 200 pounds into consideration. As many days pass, Mrs. White begs her husband to wish for their son back. After being persuaded by his wife, he wanted their son back and soon regretted it with the sound of someone knocking. We all assume after Mr. White wished, he sent his son right back to the grave, knowing the rotting and disfigured corpse wouldn’t be his true son but a zombie.

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Joan Aiken’s short story ‘The Third Wish’ has a protagonistic figure who pricks his tongue with a thorn to make sure he doesn’t make any careless wishes. He uses his first wish for a wife ‘as beautiful as the forest’ and does get his perfect wife. But she’s actually a shapeshifted swan who misses her life and family beforehand. Being comfortable and savvy with his wishes, he decides to use his second wish to turn her back into a swan. After seeing what happened with his first two wishes, he decides not to use his third wish and actually lives pretty contentedly, for the most part taking care of his swan wife and sister-in-law and dying with a smile on his face.

Approaches to Wishing: Caution and Savvy vs. Impulsivity

As you can tell, there were many similarities between the two stories. The obvious comparison is: They involve normal people magically getting three wishes. There are deeper similarities, such as the mood. The mood in both stories includes sadness about it like Mr. Peters loses his wife and the Whites lose their son, a piece of machinery. Also, they share similar themes about being careful about what you wish for. Despite the many similarities in the stories, there are some differences too. A difference in the story is the characters and what they want. Mr. Peters wished for a wife, while Mr. White wished for money instead. The setting in the two stories is different as well. In “The Third Wish,” there is a forest and a river by Mr. Peters House. In ‘The Monkey’s Paw” is really based on Mr.White’s house.

Similarities and Differences Between the Two Stories

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a rare story since they state the theme clearly. Sergeant Major Morris tells the Whites that the old owner who put a spell on the paw said, ‘You can never change anyone’s fate, or there will be grated consequences.’ The message is a warning, but Mr. White doesn’t believe it. Even though Sergeant Major Morris makes it clear that he tried wishing with unfortunate results, and he tries to throw the paw on the fire, which I would’ve given boughten it anyways. But, Mr. White makes a wish for 200 pounds only to find that he receives the money when Herbert dies in a factory accident which was the main reason why he should’ve wished. Because Mr. White had wished for something he should not have had, his son lost his life. The second wish that Mrs. White encourages him to wish for Herbert’s return, one week after his death and one week after he’s been rotting and crushed. When the strange knocking begins at the door during the windy night, Mr. White panics, believing that his previously dead and mangled son Herbert could have walked home from the cemetery and is now at the door. Because he fears what his wife will find if she opens the door, Mr. White makes his third wish for the noise to stop. Therefore, he uses his three wishes and, to his sorrow, loses his son and disappoints his wife, who fervently believes that their son is at the door. She wanted him back, regardless of his condition.

Conclusion

‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W.W. Jacobs highlights one of the most prevalent tendencies of human nature, the ‘I don’t need it, but I still want it’ attitude is seen although out our American culture and also in other parts of the world. In the story, Mr. White is content with life. He has a great family, makes a good living, and has a nice house; what more could he need? The answer is nothing; he knows it, I know it, all of the readers know it, so when Mr. White is compelled by the temptation of being granted wishes, why does he take it? Human nature is to be competitive; the combination of this and our intelligence is what sets us apart from other species. So from that aspect, it would make sense that humans want more than they need, but another question to pose is, When does competition turn into greed? Mr. White had everything he would ever need in life so that being said, he technically had already ‘won’ the competition but still took more. This is where this trait of human behavior becomes a problem; someone who has everything but must take more. It is up to every individual to personally draw the line between competition and greed. While those who fall into greed suffer consequences as the White family did, the people who draw the correct line can live a content life.

References

  1. Jacobs, W.W. (1902). “The Monkey’s Paw.” The Lady of the Barge and Others. Harper & Brothers.

  2. Aiken, Joan. (1955). “The Third Wish.” A Harp of Fishbones: And Other Stories. Macmillan.

  3. Foster, Thomas C. (2016). How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines. HarperCollins.

  4. Milhizer, Eugene A. (2011). “The Comparative Perspective in Folklore Studies: Tales of Wishes, Warnings, and Wisdom.” Western Folklore, Vol. 70, No. 1, pp. 1-30.

 

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