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It can be said that the majority of all significant characters in a literary work have an identity, which is developed in order to convey the author's message. Giving an individual an identity enables it to 'talk' to the reader.

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Introduction

It can be said that the majority of all significant characters in a literary work have an identity, which is developed in order to convey the author's message. Giving an individual an identity enables it to 'talk' to the reader. Therefore, we can see that a character with a personal identity is significant in a literary work, and does not merely coexist with other characters in a literary work. This aspect of personal identity is brought out in Milan Kundera's Identity and in Tim O' Brien's The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong in 'The Things They Carried'. The loss / gain of personal identity seems to be the common theme in both texts. The character of Chantal in Kundera's Identity loses her individuality due to social conformity and the character of Mary Anne gains her identity, which was also lost due to social conformity. Though both texts deal with the issue regarding one's personal identity, they differ in terms of the flow direction in loss / gain of identity. In Identity, Chantal loses her identity and then regains it later on. But in The Things They Carried, Mary Anne finds her lost identity. In Milan Kundera's Identity, it can be seen that Chantal has her individuality at the beginning of the dream. "Tongues licking each other had always disgusted her". Chantal can be said to be unique because of her expressed disgust towards French kissing. ...read more.

Middle

In chapter 24, we can see that Jean Marc' s letters influence Chantal to regain her identity. "I swathe your white body in a cardinal's crimson mantle. And then I put you, draped like that, into a red room on a red bed, my red cardinal, most gorgeous cardinal!" Here, it can be seen that it is Jean Marc who gives Chantal her individuality. "Before her half closed eyes, that red patch turns into a Rose garden, and she smells the faint fragrance nearly forgotten, the fragrance of the Rose yearning to embrace all the men in the world." Milan Kundera again uses the Rose and crimson to symbolize individuality. When considering Milan Kundera's message regarding the loss and gain of personal identity in Identity, It can be seen that his character of Chantal who loses her identity due to the conformities, regains her identity due to the influence of another character - Jean Marc. Milan Kundera uses this theme of the loss / gain of identity in order to show how conformities lead people to lose their identities and how the outside world contributes towards giving each other an individuality. Tim O' Brien develops the theme of identity in The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong. He uses the character of Mary Anne in order to bring about this theme. In Milan Kundera' s Identity, the theme involves a character losing her identity and finding it later on in the story. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here Mary Anne justifies her change. It can be seen that Mary Anne has found her true identity. This is implied when she herself states, "I feel close to my own body". In the past Mary Anne was tied down from finding her true identity due the conformities. But once she came to Vietnam, she was given the opportunity to gain her individuality. Tim O'Brien uses strong, and vivid imagery to show how different a person can really be when not tied down by social conformities. In the beginning, Mary Anne did not appear to have any uniqueness. But once the conformities were taken away, she had the opportunity to be herself and in fact enjoy being an individual. When considering Milan Kundera's Identity and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. "Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong", both texts deal with the issue of personal identity in different perspectives. The character of Chantal in Milan Kundera's Identity, loses her identity, and then under the influence of another character- Jean Marc, regains her identity. The character of Mary Anne in Tim O'Brien's The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong, finds her true identity once she comes to Vietnam, where social conformities do not exist. The common factor in both texts being that the personal identity is lost due to social conformities, the two characters in the two texts have two different approaches regarding the issue of one's identity. ...read more.

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