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Exploring Fear in Howl, Basketball Diaries, and Cat’s Cradle

“yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars” (Ginsberg 11). Like many authors of the modern literature movement, Allen Ginsberg explores the bomb’s psychological affects on many Americans during the 1960s. Modern literature describes the chaos of the 1960s, caused by increasing societal problems and fear of the new atomic bomb. Writings such as The Basketball Diaries, “Howl” and Cat’s Cradle express concepts of fear, power, governmental control, and death. Government uses society’s fear of death and the end of the world to keep control and power over the people. The atomic bomb generates such universal fear and the corrupted government fails to respond to the chaotic behavior of society or the fears of the individuals. This fear that the government achieves not only maintains control, but also causes chaos and the false belief that the government is on the public’s side. The chaotic environment is a result of people crying out for help and the conflicting lifestyles arise when people face the terror of death.

Historically, fear has been used to control populations. For example, asearly as the 1700s, white men controlled black slaves through the fear of being killed. During slave days, in the South, the ratio was nine blacks to every white person (Nash and Graves 213). When Nat Turner, a black slave, finally revolted, the United States government responded by sending the army with tanks and guns to resist the black men. The reaction of the whites imbedded the fearof revolts within the slaves. The blacks could have successfully revolted, but were controlled by the fear of the powerful white man. The white man held the power and con…

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…ld such dangers have any significance to life? Jim Carroll tells the real story of his fear of the end and the mixed feelings of what matters, what doesn’t. His fear is accompanied by confusion of how to live, today, with the possibility of being killed tomorrow.

Throughout “Howl,” The Basketball Diaries, and Cat’s Cradle it is evident that the government controlled society with the fear of the bomb. We can see how this fear influenced individuals and society as a whole. The government caused the fear in society by possessing the atomic bomb and ignoring problems arising. Society blaimed the people for their reactions to the fear of the bomb. Furthermore, the government presented itself as protector, leading to increased confusion and chaos. In modern society, deciding who is the enemy and who holds the power, determines who controls the fate of the world.

Search for Identity in It’s Hard Enough Being Me

Search for Identity in It’s Hard Enough Being Me

In the essay “It’s Hard Enough Being Me,” Anna Lisa Raya relates her experiences as a multicultural American at Columbia University in New York and the confusion she felt about her identity. She grew up in L.A. and mostly identified with her Mexican background, but occasionally with her Puerto Rican background as well. Upon arriving to New York however, she discovered that to everyone else, she was considered “Latina.” She points out that a typical “Latina” must salsa dance, know Mexican history, and most importantly, speak Spanish. Raya argues that she doesn’t know any of these things, so how could this label apply to her? She’s caught between being a “sell-out” to her heritage, and at the same time a “spic” to Americans. She adds that trying to cope with college life and the confusion of searching for an identity is a burden. Anna Raya closes her essay by presenting a piece of advice she was given on how to deal with her identity. She was told that she should try to satisfy herself and not worry about other people’s opinions. Anna Lisa Raya’s essay is an informative account of life for a multicultural American as well as an important insight into how people of multicultural backgrounds handle the labels that are placed upon them, and the confusion it leads to in the attempt to find an identity. Searching for an identity in a society that seeks to place a label on each individual is a difficult task, especially for people of multicultural ancestry.

Raya’s essay is an informative account of life for a multicultural American, because it is told from an actual multicultural author’s viewpoint. It gives the reader a sense that the information is accurate. It would be harder to accept the viewpoint if the author were for example, a white male writing about how a Mexican, Puerto Rican woman feels. As Connie Young Yu points out, information retold by someone who didn’t live the experiences is most often falsely perceived. Yu uses the example of white American historians writing about the lives of Chinese immigrants. Yu says that there is no accurate account for the lives of the immigrants, because they didn’t document their lives themselves. The little information that there is in history books only tells about their obvious accomplishments. There is no official understanding of their personal lives or feelings (Yu 30).

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