In the short story “Identities” by W. D. Valgardson you initially think this story going to be about someone who doesn’t know who they are or in other words their “Identity”. But this summary is about how your identity determines almost completely who you are perceived to be. For example when you think about a police officer stereotypically they are the “protectors” and the main character was supposed to be stereotypical “criminal”. But in this story the police officer wasn’t the protector at all instead he was the opposite, and the main character wasn’t anything near a criminal he was just a average man trying to live his life.
The author W. D. Valgardson uses character development ,foreshadowing,and irony to prove that stereotypes are more harmful than beneficial to society because unfortunately,everyone see’s what you appear to be … few know what you really are. As the story begins The author uses characterization to portray a stereotypical wealthy persona who rarely strays from his usual routine and has been rich all of his life. And his stereotype is even harmful to him, which is causing him to try to escape because he feels so trapped which leads to trouble. Normally, he goes clean-shaven into the world, but the promise of a Saturday liquid with sunshine draws him first from his study to the backyard… The smell of burning leaves stirs the memories of childhood car rides, narrow lanes adrift with yellow leaves, girls on plodding horses, unattended stands piled high with pumpkins, onions, or beets so that each one was, in its own way, a still life. ” The main character as he continues to reminisce it seems to make him want to make change out of the ordinary and suffocating stereotypical lifestyle “Wakes in him a desire to temporarily abandon the twice-cut yards and hundred-year-old oaks…
He meanders, instead, through the neat suburban labyrinth of cul-de-sacs, bays and circles, losing and finding himself endless … He has on blue jeans – matching pants and jacket made in Paris – he is driving a grey Mercedes Benz. And Becoming lost is made all the easier because the houses repeat themselves with superficial variations. There grows within him, however, a vague unease with symmetry, with nothing left to chance, no ragged edges, no unkempt vacant lots, no houses rendered unique by necessity and indifference. ”
The author goes on to foreshadowing which is stereotypical because he sets up a scene where he wants you to believe that this “wealthy man” who knows nothing about anything other than his rich upbringing wanders into a situation he knows nothing about. Which will bring him ultimately nothing but trouble “The houses all face the sun. They have no artificial divisions. There is room enough for everyone. Now, as he passes grey stone gates, the yards are all proscribed by stiff picket fences and, quickly, a certain untidiness creeps in: a fragment of glass, a chocolate bar wrapper, a plastic horse, cracked sidewalks with ridges of stiff grass. As the main character enters this stereotypically “dangerous” neighborhood which is that certain way for a certain reason that’s not good . It foreshadows nothing can come good out of being in this particular neighborhood. “ He passes a ten-foot wire fence enclosing a playground bare of equipment and pounded flat.
The gate is double locked, the fence cut and rolled into a cone… boys throw stones at pigeons. Paper clogs the fence like drifted snow. The school is covered with heavy screens. Its yellow brick is pock-marked, chipped. ”. So intent is he upon the future that he dangerously ignores the present and does not notice the police car, concealed in the shadows of a side street, nose out and follow him” Because he’s so wrapped up in what he was doing he doesn’t realize his own danger following close behind because because this stereotypical neighborhood doesn’t usually see certain type of cars driving in it without a controversy following close behind “Ahead, there is a small store with windows covered in hand painted signs and vertical metal bars” this foreshadowing that this store is not the best/safest store because it has metal bars on the windows which in self raises red flags.
The author uses Irony to set up the scene of the stereotypical criminal so that you assume that this is the real threat the real type of men who you need to look out for the ones that will steal your car. “The young men stand and lean in tired, watchful knots close to phone booths and seedy-looking grocery stores. Their slick hair glistens. Their leather jackets gleam with studs. Eagles, tigers, wolves and serpents ride their backs. ” “He is overtaken by sudden guilt.
He has left no message for his wife”. “He realizes, will have returned from bridge, his children gathered for supper. He also knows that, at first, they have explained his absence on a neighbour’s hospitality and gin. However, by the time he can return, annoyance will have blossomed into alarm. His safe return will, he knows from childhood and years of being locked in domestic grief, degenerate to recriminations and apology. Faced with this, he decides to call the next time he sees a store or phone booth. ” The irony in this is the only reason he decides to stop his car is to let his wife know he is safe,when that same stop turned out to be anything but safe. When the officer, who is inexperienced, who is nervous because of the neighbour-hood, who is suspicious because of the car and because he has been trained to see an unshaven man in blue jeans as a potential thief
”This is ironic because police are supposed to be fearless and invincible and he no different than the main character in a way that they are both scared. “When he turns part way around and recognizes the uniform, he does not feel fear but relief. Instinctively relaxing, certain of his safety, in the last voluntary movement of his life, he reaches his hand not in the air as he was ordered to, but toward his wallet for his identity” This is so ironic because the man thought he was safe in “good hands” because he was with a cop who is the stereotypical “hero” and at the last moment of his life just wanted to give him his identity so that he could be identified. But instead the officer see’s him as no more than a stereotypical “criminal” because of how he looked .
And thought the man couldn’t be reaching for anything other than a weapon to hurt the officer, and the stereotypical “hero” turned out to be anything but. The stereotypical “hero” decided to protect himself when the main character was the true victim. And strangely enough the true victim needed protection,from the stereotypical protector. In the short story identities you initially think this story going to be about someone who doesn’t know who they are or in other words their “identity”. But this story is about how your identity determines almost completely who you are perceived to be. Identities is so ironic,for example when you think about a police officer stereotypically they are the “protectors” and this man was supposed to be stereotypical“criminal”.
But in this story the police officer wasn’t the protector at all instead he was the opposite, and the main character wasn’t anything near a criminal he was just a average man trying to live his life. What W. D. Valgardson of identities proves is that stereotypes are more harmful than beneficial to society because unfortunately,everyone see’s what you appear to be … few know what you really are. In this story the cop protected himself against nothing but a mere stereotype after it was all said and done. “Stereotypes are devices for saving a biased person the trouble of learning” ,we are all humans and what W. D. Valgardson is saying through his story identities is that as long as we label 9 times out of 10 we will NOT live up to the stereotypes put upon by society which most times may turn out to be harmful to society.