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Compare How Grace Nichols and Irvine Welsh Present the Struggle for Identity

Essay by   •  May 21, 2011  •  Essay  •  424 Words (2 Pages)  •  2,537 Views

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Both Grace Nichols and Irvine Welsh present the struggle for identity in their novels, but they both do so in different ways. Welsh shows a struggle for identity as being a very negative thing in Trainspotting, as the novel follows the character's chaotic lifestyles and heroin addictions. However, in The Fat Black Woman's Poems, Nichols presents the struggle for identity as being a positive thing and something that is to be embraced and challenged.

Nichols and Welsh both use unconventional structure and punctuation to explore the issue of a struggle for identity. In Trainspotting, Welsh challenges the stereotypical norms of punctuation in most typical novels, and replaces speech marks with hyphens for character's speech. This is fitting to the novel, as the characters challenge social norms through drug use, so Welsh's style reflects this and is very fitting. In this respect, Nichols' work is very similar. Her poems are all blank verse, so follow no structure. In addition to this, they contain no/little punctuation either, even at the end of the poem. Both writers' work in this way in order to 'rebel' against society, who have judged them for not fitting in, and therefore go against the expected norms in their writing.

Trainspotting is written in Scottish dialect, "ken", which conveys the pride Welsh feels towards his country. In the same way, although Nichols writes in conventional English, she still incorporates many Caribbean references, "hibiscus", which expresses her love and loyalty to her birthplace. Writing in either of these ways is obviously not a conventional, familiar way to write in, reading them as a British audience, so this therefore enhances the struggle for identity the writers' wish to convey in their writing.

As I briefly touched on earlier, Welsh and Nichols present the struggle for identity very differently. We sense this through the mood that is conveyed in their writing in. Nichols' poems- for example "Beauty"- come across to us as being very happy and proud. She recognises that people like her do face a struggle for acceptance, but she is happy to "drift" in "happy oblivion". Again, in "... And a Fat Poem", we sense the proud tone through Nichols' definitive statements, "Fat is a dream in times of lean". Also, the use of a pun on the word "lean" shows the playful, light-hearted feelings Nichols has adopted towards the issue, after being so heavily judged. Trainspotting on the other hand, expresses the struggle for acceptance is society, and shows this as having a very negative impact through the debilitating effects it has on the characters.

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