Searching for social identities during adolescence in “I know why the caged bird sings” and “The House on Mango Street”
Araluzea Plaza, Itxaso
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The novel of adolescence or the Bildungsroman follows the identity formation of the main character from childhood to adulthood. This paper focuses on the development of the identity of the main characters in The House on Mango Street and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The development of their own voice to define their individual identity is analyzed, parting from the insecurities and the discrimination the protagonists face during their childhood. For this, besides their personal experiences, the paper also considers how the people that surround Marguerite and Esperanza inspire them to embrace the individuality of their communities. The essay is categorized into three predominant sections: class identity, ethnic identity and gender identity. The themes were analyzed taking into account the personal background of each character as Chicana and black women, which showed specific concerns for both characters. The conclusion put side by side the different social identities, and it became apparent that when they had a role model that challenged the mainstream, the protagonists were able to develop better a sense of social justice and the confidence to be their own person.