Tim O’brien’s “On the Rainy River”

The relationship you have with others often has a direct effect on the basis of your very own personal identity. In the essay “On The Rainy River,” the author Tim O’Brien tells about his experiences and how his relationship with a single person had effected his life so dramatically. It is hard for anyone to rely fully on their own personal experiences when there are so many other people out there with different experiences of their own. Sometimes it take the experiences and knowledge of others to help you learn and build from them to help form your own personal identity. In the essay, O’Brien speaks about his experiences with a man by the name of Elroy Berdahl, the owner of the fishing lodge that O’Brien stays at while on how journey to find himself. The experiences O’Brien has while there helps him to open his mind and realize what his true personal identity was. It gives you a sense than our own personal identities are built on the relationships we have with others. There are many influence out there such as our family and friends. Sometimes even groups of people such as others of our nationality and religion have a space in building our personal identities.

In the essay O’Brien is faced with a conflict, a moral dilemma. He had to decide whether he was either going to go to the war and fight or was he going to run away and avoid the draft. The relationship he had with Berdahl was not of friends or even regular acquaintances. Rather they were perfect strangers. That goes to show you that anyone can be a major influence on your life. Berdahl helped to open O’Brien’s heart. He realized who he was and where he had come from, his past and what he has been through. How all the events of the past helped him to become the person he was right now. How his past helped form his personal identity.

The formation of our own personal identities often begin at birth. As you grow up your parents are a major influence on you. They teach you many things and help to shape your personal identity. They teach you the basics, from knowing right from wrong to your basic moral values. Your moral values are often built upon the basic morals your parents have and what they have taught you in return. Since you are young you often believe that everything your parents say and do is always right and you look up to that. When you do something wrong your parents are always quick to correct you and show you that what you have done is not right. Your parents can only teach you so much. They do the best they can to the extent of their knowledge. Some things we have to learn on our own. That’s what makes us humans. We learn from our personal mistakes and build upon that. The many things you gain from your parents are often carried on with you throughout your life and will be passed around to other people and someday even your very own children.

You are also influenced greatly by the people around you. Such as other family members, friends, and other groups of your peers. They help to form aspects of yourself such as your personality. The type of friends you have are a major influence on your personal identity. You often try to fit into the group. They motivate you to do certain things to act a certain way. They affect not only your mental identity but also your physical identity as well. Like how your look and how you dress. How you get along with people and how you treat others is often an affected by the group of people you are around most of the time. Your friends can also help to form your personal identity in the same ways your parents do. They can teach you moral values and tell you when you are doing something wrong. Also often the more friends you have can form the type of person you are such as how you act. If you have more friends you are generally a more open person and it is easy fro you to communicate with others. If you have less friends you often become more of a shy person and keep to yourself more often. Either way your friends help build your moral character and your personal identity.

Another major influence is your nationality. Your nationality forms who you are and how other people look at you. People often treat others of different nationalities differently. This in turn forms how you look at people of different decent also. Traditions within your nationality help to form some of your moral values also. The way your ancestors lived and what kind of people the were are a major influence on Vietnamese traditions. Your traditions help you to from certain aspects of your moral value. In Vietnamese tradition, who you are is very important. You are brought up on very peaceful morals. Religion is also a major part of the Vietnamese tradition. Vietnamese families are often very religious. Whether being either Buddhist or Catholic out religious beliefs are very important to us. Religion is a very essential part of our daily lives, many of our basic morals and values come from the practice of religion. Families often keep a very strong bond between each other. You learn how to respect others such as your parents and elders. Traditions teach you many things. Even the little things like your daily habits, such as saying good bye to your parents when you leave in the morning for school and greeting them when you come home. They are all things that help to form your traditions and who you are.

No one is ever alone. Everyone is influenced by others. Our personal identities are based on the relationships with have with others. They help us to form who we are. Relationships are very vital to making us unique in our own ways. That combination of all that we learn come together to help us realize that without relationships how would we would we be able to build on our personal identity. Whether being from out parents, friends, or peers. It is clear that they all play an important role in the framework of our personal identities.

Advertisements

One thought on “Tim O’brien’s “On the Rainy River”

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s