Identity in the bridge

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  • Publié le : 12 mars 2011
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Introduction:

What makes identity? How can we express our identity?
language/words/dialects. The way we speak is part of our identity, ex: the Barbarian
culture/history of a nation
story of a life/events, ex: Alex's life is part of his identity
dreams: the dreams we make are a reflect of our identity
=>There is a parallel between the characters looking for their identity and theScottish endeavour to strenghten their sense of national identity.

Plan:

1.How do the characters of The Bridge characterize Alex's identity/personality? How is the theme of identity treated through the characters of The Bridge?
2.How in The Bridge, the Scottish sense of national identity is treated?1.Identity in The Bridge

In the novel, we have three different identities/characters in one. Cf specificity of Banks as a post-modern writer. So we have: Alex, the Barbarian and Mr Orr with the last two ones both bringing something different to Alex's identity.
First Alex: he finds himself in coma after a car accident and that's why the reader is confronted to hisunconscious state of mind. He has lost his identity (he can't remember his name). The whole story is about him trying to remember who he is/his identity. -> quest of identity.
So how can we define Alex's identity?
First we can discuss the relation between Alex and the machines: there is a strong link between the two. For example Alex is at the hospital, linked to some machines so he can breath, thenbefore his accident, he used to love cars (very expensive, sophisticated and fast cars), more than that: he is an engineer. Cf P352, 371. This relation to the machines also appears in J. Orr's story: his world is the one of the bridge which is described as a machine, as a huge superstructure. Mr Orr's phone, with its rhythmic beeping is in fact Alex's heart monitor. What does it say about identity?Is Alex controlled by the machines? Is Orr controlled by the bridge? Is Banks warning us about the machines, and the fact that we could loose our personality or identity because of them?
Second, the hippie style of his life is another characteristic of his identity: he drinks a lot...smokes joints and takes drugs and this will be the cause of his death. Is Banks warning us against drugs? Itlooks like Banks is making a moral probity.
Third there is the story between Alex and Andrea representing Alex's doomed sentimental/sexual life.
Finally his dreams: they are the reflect of Alex's mind while he is in coma. They are the means for Alex to stay alive, to express his personality. The notion of dream is important here and is also present in Orr's world.
->The more we read the book andpenetrate in the characters' state of mind, the more we learn about his identity. They help us to understand who Alex is.
Second the Barbarian: he belongs to Alex's dreams but also to Mr Orr's as well? He represents the brutal part of Alex, he is a fighter (maybe just as Alex is a fighter against coma). His voice changes when he kills the magicien, so does his personality. The barbarianmotivates Alex to join the real world. So we can ask: what does the way we speak tell about our personality? He is illiterate whereas the little familiar who is travelling with him isn't.The barbarian might embody the Scottish working class by the way he speaks just as Alex might embody the upper class. We could also think that the barbarian, who is only interested in treasure and women, represents thebad side of Alex. He is violent and trusts only his animal instinct. The barabarian is the embodiment of the male dominant aspect of Alex's personality. Alex has spent his entire life trying to distance himself from this: uneducated, brutal, the use of the Scottish accent.
Third Mr Orr: he lost his memory and is trying to have it back. He wants to know more about his identity. He is always...
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