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When Peter Parker walks in late to his English class, he interrupts a lesson on plot in fiction. His teacher is explaining that a mentor of hers used to say that there are ten basic plots in all of fiction, but that she disagrees…she thinks there is only one: the question of who am I?
Certainly the exploration of that question is key to many stories. It is key to the story of Spider Man as Peter Parker must figure out the origin of his identity and who he wants to be going forward. The question of identity is one we each must answer as we grow up, and it makes sense that if literature is the exploration of human experience that its stories strive to answer that question, too. Who are we, as individuals and as part of larger communities?
“Who am I?” is a question that is key to understanding the theme and plot of many stories we have discussed this year, among them
- Beowulf, A New Telling
- Freak the Mighty
- A Christmas Carol
- The Lion King
- Star Wars
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Phantom of the Opera
- Les Miserables
Can you think of more stories you have read or watched that explore the question of identity? Share your answer in the comments.