, by Adrienne Rich
How is Rich's essay set up? Howis it structured? Describe the way that she sets up the introduction, thenthe blocks of scenes and the conclusion.
Rather than beginning the essay witha scene to further her focus or her history, Rich begins by giving us an imageof her writing. What is the effect of beginning this way? How does writingfigure throughout her essay? What connection do you see between writingand her identity?
How does Rich connect being Jewishwith being black, anti-semitism--with racism in general?
Freewrite a paragraph in which youexplore some of the different aspects that make up your identity.QUESTIONS ABOUT THE READING:(2)
What does Adrienne Rich mean by the phrase "split at the root"?
The historical context and politics—of the south, of her Jewish-gentile parentage, of the feminist movement, of the Second World War during her childhood and then world in upheaval and change during her late teens, of her father’s denial of and self-abhorrence of his religious roots—serve as a constant reminder to the reader about all the forces and frames that forge our identities.
Rich is writing to confront and contend with her divided selves, to contemplate her roots, to wrestle with her identity issues, which, she has been struggling with for years: “Why, I asked myself sometime last year, does this question of Jewish identity float so impalpably, so ungraspably, around me, a cloud I can’t quite see the outlines of, which feels to me without definition?
In the second section, she refers to her own poem, when she described herself as “Split at the root, neither Gentile nor Jew, Yankee nor Rebel” (640), which enables the reader to understand the weight of her lineage and her geographic dislocation.
The raison d’etre of the essay—her exploration of and musing on her split identity as part Jew, part gentile, Southern born, feminist, once-married, since divorced, now lesbian, mother—is allotted the most import.
At the end she embraces all she is and says she will from now on live her life with all aspects of what she is; Half-Jewish, Half-Gentile, a feminist, and a lesbian -Split at the root.
In writing your paper, don't justchoose the most obvious descriptive episodes about speaking andsilence, but consider some of the ways that Kingston uses ideasabout talking and silence in more conceptual ways. Split at the Root: An Essay onJewish Identity
Adrienne Rich Adrienne Rich is best known as a poet, having begun publishingover thirty years ago.
Why, I asked myself sometime last year, does this question of Jewish Identity float so impalpably, so ungraspably around me, a cloud I can't quite see the outlines of, which feels to me to be without definition?" "But this begins, for me, in Baltimore, where I was born in my father's workplace, a hospital in the black ghetto, whose lobby contained an immense white marble statue of Christ." TONE The tone of the essay is self-deprecating (which means modest about or critical of oneself) "I felt accused of being morbidly curious, not healthy, sniffing around death for the thrill of it.