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“I Am We”: The duality of being one

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  1. Introduction.
  2. 'The Law of Life' written by Jack London.
  3. Individual independence of the community and a hunger for the right to be.
  4. The Native American community and its individual members.
  5. Impressions of an Indian Childhood.
  6. Emerson's self stands as the ideal.
  7. I AM and its relationship to the WE.

Who am I? Asked, the response begins: ?I am?,? followed by the concept upon which the individual forms his or her identity. America has built itself upon this exchange; accenting the importance of the ?I,? of the individual, and his or her ability to construct his or her own identity. In its diversity, America serves as a metaphor for the chaotic stream of experiences, emotions, and relationships which form the individual. Here, the ?I? and the ?we,? the internal and the external seem to exist simultaneously. It is then a nation of individuals, each with multiple identities who, together, form the community. According to the American ideal, I am this or that because I choose to be this or that. And it is through these concepts that one defines the self and thus, declares one's existence. But, the concepts, adjectives by which ?I? is defined are determined by society whose meanings and connotations are predetermined, restricting the individual to an assigned role within the nation.

[...] It promised a new beginning, a new center from which the self could exist; one freed from the traditional Laws of Nature and its assessment of who It was to be a diverse, limitless reality that embodied the essence of the individual and measured his or her value by the virtue of their own being. But the American ideal came at a price. The new nation presented a concept by which the would be defined. The statement, am an American? required the assumption of an American identity, a title which demanded the conversion and assimilation of peoples within the new consciousness through the sacrifice of their native identities. [...]


[...] focuses upon the degraded and ghostly image of Elizabeth Willard, the wife of the town's hotel manager and the mother of George Willard, the editor of the town newspaper. She wanders through her hotel room, a shadow of a human being, devoid of emotion or passion. ?Some obscure disease had taken the fire from out of her figure? (1214) and had left her without a sense of worth in her individuality. She recalls her youth and the ?great restlessness? that had defined her. [...]


[...] He is ruled by the laws of nature, a law which grants him one task in life and had done his task long since? (975). Law of Life? presents a universal truth, a decree whose obedience determines the worth and power of the individual. ?Nature was not kindly to the flesh. She had no concern for that concrete thing called the individual. Her interest lay in the species, the race? (974). The individual Old Koskoosh is merely a passing memory, an valued only for his ability to extend the existence of his community. [...]

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