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The First Group, the Family, Has More Influence in Our Identity and Belonging

In: English and Literature

Submitted By hongmt
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‘The first group we belong to, the family, has more influence than any other group on forming our identity’

Family, the first group we belong to, carries a monumental impact in influencing ones' identity. However, through different circumstances, it is possible to have more than one 'family', thus having another group possessing more influence over the 'first family'. Having a 'family' is not determined by having a biological connection, rather it is the people with whom we associate. We are moulded by our environment and what we experience whilst growing up. The foundation of values and beliefs we acquire throughout our lives originates from our first home. Even so, if one chooses to leave their family early or if their family can no longer be with them, our identity is then influenced by the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Experiencing the world through your own eyes naturally shapes you to become a person adaptable to it. The In the novel, The Dressmaker, by Rosalie Ham, the protagonist, Tilly Dunnage is an illegitimate child victimised by many because of her background. As a young girl, Tilly, originally known as Myrtle, suffered torment, harassment both physically and mentally due to the 'brand' she is given from birth. Being born out of wedlock, her mother, 'Mad Molly', is known as a 'whore' and thus both are outcasted from the 1950s rural township of Dungatar. Tilly's identity is unjustly established by this first group she belongs to, the family. The influence of her mother's set up image paints an already predetermined perception of Tilly as a person. Another character such as Teddy, proves that although you may be the town’s football star, family plays a huge role in judging a person. Therefore, these identities are built up from the narrow, prejudice thinking of the townspeople. Through all the harsh mistreating, Tilly learns to become resilient and independent. Her family background forces her to grow up faster, become more mature by undergoing the hardships of life. Tilly develops to 'seem strong, but damaged'; a child that has experienced unfortunate adversities, scars that are incapable of healing. But because of such adversities, Tilly has painfully learnt to stand tall on her own two feet. Who we become as person originates from what we learn at home. Our values and beliefs are formulated from what is encouraged and practiced. Around the world, religion can play a significant role in ones' identity. The values and beliefs of Christianity differ from those of Buddhism or Hinduism. What is considered 'normal' in one family may not be for another. Something simple as saying grace before each meal, is not performed in all families. Thus, no matter how small these exercises are, they will ultimately accumulate to forming the identity of a person. Rather, the meaning and benefit obtained from demonstrating these exercises, conditions a person to apply these to their everyday life. Whilst in Muslim countries, women are brought up to always cover up their body as it is thought to be 'provocative' and disrespectful. In consequence to unfortunate events such as the terrorism of Osama Bin Laden, people with this image (of covering their bodies), have the identity of being 'terrorists'. In a family, family members who holds authoritative positions (e.g. parents), act as role models which their subordinates (children) reflect and imitate. As children grow up, what they observe and emulate greatly impacts their outlook on life, and possibly their nature in the future. First families benchmark what is deemed as 'normal' and teaches children what is believed to be 'right' from what is 'wrong'. However, certain circumstances may happen to ones' family that may result in having to find another. Depending on when the relation of the first group, the family, is broken, the effect on the individual may vary. If the bond is broken through the early stages of childhood, the second/other caregivers then shapes the child's identity. Whilst, if the bond is broken after the establishment and full growth of the person, it does not have a significant impact. In the case of Tilly, due to an uncommitted crime, she was suddenly separated from her mother at a young age; her first family. By growing up in a different town, then after, travelling around the world, Tilly formed her identity from what she witnesses. In Paris, she had a family with a man named Ormond. After the unexpected death of her baby, Pablo, Tilly concretely believed she was 'cursed'. This premonition haunts her throughout the novel as she continuously reminds herself of the past. Thus her self-established identity of being a ‘banshee’ restricts her from a life of freedom. Although, her 'first family' is the reason for her return back to the town of Dungatar, her maturity and skills were indeed the results of the struggles she encountered during her life. Identity is how a person associates and views another. The identity of an individual will inevitably vary across a range of people. Family plays a crucial part in developing ones' identity, however one will, if not has, different groups whom can be called 'family'. In relation to the 'first group of family', the parental figures of the group ultimately direct the individual to see the world in a particular way. The first stepping stone will always be the most monumental moment as it shows you a direction, but where you choose to go is ultimately up to you.

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