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Kelsey Gentil
Jennifer Rodrick
QS 115
21 November 2016
A Single Man
Back then when we think of the 60's we think of the good and bad things that happened,
mainly the good things. But in A Single Man, it was one of those bad things. George was a gay
man, hiding his true identity because he was too afraid to really show who he was because it was
a bad thing but also sin to be a gay man. For most of George's time, he had to hide his true
identity, pretending to be someone that he wasn't because your identity was expected to be like
everyone else's, a straight man. George was never really happy with his life, other than with Jim
but when Jim passed away he completely hated everything. Identity was a big part of George's
life, because it shaped him to be a different person, depending where he was because he felt
trapped inside a society where he didn't fit in, and be the person he was without shame, to the
point where he felt life was useless and had no willingness to live any longer.
In life, ways have that one special person that really truly bring out the best in you and
for George that was Jim. When George was around Jim he was able to show his true identity, be
comfortable with the person he really was without hiding. But when Jim passed away, George's
lover, his special person, the one who made him feel at home, George's life had no purpose
anymore. As the novel to agrees, it states, "And it is here, nearly every morning, that George
having reached the bottom of the stairs, has this sensation of suddenly finding himself on an
abrupt, brutally broken off, jagged edge- as through the track has disappeared down a landslide"
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(13) In the novel is points out that George was lifeless without Jim, he wasn't happy at all, he
hated life. George literally tried to live life day by day hoping that he can find someone else like
Jim, a person who understands him. Most people part of the LGBTQ community live life like
George did, useless, like if life was pointless since there are people who don't accept them for
they are. The people who aren't happy being someone they're not are not fulfilling their
life,rather feel like prisoners, trapped.
When it comes to love, you need it one way or another. Whether we might sometimes
think we don't but we all know we do. George feels the exactly the same way after having loss,
Jim. The author shows how George is on a search to find just that no matter the situation. In A
Single Man, a student named Kenny bought George a pencil sharpener as a friendly gesture but
George saw it as something else, but more. "Oh, but--well, thank you!' George is actually
blushing a little. It's as if he has been offered a rose" (Isherwood 23). When George was given
the pencil sharpener he felt as if it was a little more, that it wasn't just a pencil sharpener but
more like a rose, a grand gesture. But that feeling you get inside, the butterflies, when you
receive something from someone, it hits you with that spark and makes you think if they did that
because they like you, or because they want to get your attention. But in other words that
engrossment. Well, that's how George felt with Kenny. In the blog; Connection Failed: An
Analysis of Christopher Isherwood's [A Single Man], Angel Matos states how George is quite
desperate for some type of attention and affection from a man. "His sexuality pushes him to feel
a desire that is nearly impossible to quenchthus forcing George to live vicariously through small
interactions, touches, and brief exchanges that he has with other men....What is clear here is that
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George is a man who is starving for connection. He craves to feel part of whole, even if this
connection with the whole is momentary" (Matos). George is needy of affection from a man. Any
chance he can get, he will take the moment and make it his own even if it is just thoughts or
small gestures.
In life, we try to please others by
trying to let them accept us by what they
want. Like for example in the picture. We
aren't really living until we let go of what
people want out of us. Once we are able to
identify ourselves and accept that we are
truly living then. At the end of the book,
the author decided to kill George. The
author states that "And if some part of the nonentity we called George has indeed been absent at
this moment of terminal shock, away out there on the deep waters, then it will return to find itself
homeless." (186) Isherwood is talking about the soul of George leaving his physical body,
meaning George is finally free. He is now free of judgment and free to be whoever he would
want to be and be accepted. Now that Jim's death is in the past he has life figured out and is
ready to live life as it should be lived. Majority of times, our actions are based upon the identity
we seek to show to those that draw near us. The way we shape our identity is formed by our fear
of others can tell and can affect our actions as well. The Critical Media Project states how
identity overpowers every single aspect and view of our life. "Our identity can
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fundamentally shape our life experience, how we're treated, whom we meet and become friends
with, what kind of education and jobs we get, where we live, what opportunities we're afforded,
and what kind of inequities we may face." Like George in the novel, by him masking his identity
to those he is afraid of showing, causes him to not enjoy life the fullest, him shielding his
identity. Others may argue that our choices are only affected by or own insecurities and thoughts
but that isn't the case with George. Yes, our insecurities may have an input in our actions but the
power of other people's views substantially result in how we can display our identity.
So, In A Single Man Georges identity really struggles to shape because he cant really
seem to be himself anymore, as so it describes him, by a lot. George began to hide his true self, a
gay man, and almost was like a different person when Jim wasnt around anymore because he
didn't feel that comfortable being out but also that acceptance Jim gave him. We sometimes
expect too much from people, that we shouldnt, that sometimes makes us even try to become
someone else and hide our real persona. George was an outsider like many gay, bisexual, trans,
etc. people are which we shouldnt, we should be proud to be the person god, made us to be no
matter the circumstances and struggles, because everyone will struggle no matter what. But
there's always a way to the top, one way or another.

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Works Cited

Isherwood, Christopher. A Single Man. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2001. Print

Matos, Angel Daniel. Connection Failed: An Analysis Of Christopher Isherwoods [A Single


Man]. The Ever After That Fiction Allows. N.P., 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Identity: Key Concepts The Critical Media Project. USC Annenberg School for
Communication and Journalism, September 2013. Web. 9 November 2015.

Jeyaloganathan, Vithu. Identity Quotes. Jarofquotes.com