Identity and Belonging – Change Can Be Easy or Hard – Reference to Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Throughout your life the process of ageing is constantly influencing your identity. As William Shakespeare wrote “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts,…”. Our identity is forever changing and this is because we are forever ageing. Throughout out the three main stages of ageing – youth, middle age, elderly- we don’t just age physically, we age physiologically as well. Hence as we age we mature, become wiser and more aware of the world around us.
As of this our views change from each stage of life, thus inflicting our identity to change. Although some people find this transition from one stage of life to the next to be difficult and dread upon its occurrences whereas others enjoy ageing and just take it as it comes. As a baby we have our identity created for us, they say “give me the boy at seven and I will give you the man” implying that until the age of seven a child is dependent on their very first social unit, that is family.
It is the multiplicity and complexity of family that gives children real life experiences into human relationships and what teaches them morals and values which will always be a part of their identity, although as you age, and mature you become less dependent on your family and are able to venture out into the world. This usually happens around the age of adolescence. This is a time when adolescences have the world at their feet and they are “servants to their own dreams”.

Many people enjoy this part of growing up as their bodies are at the peak, meaning they are able to push them to do whatever they want. They are less susceptible to illnesses and less likely to damage themselves; when they do the body’s ability to repair at that age is remarkable. Not only are they at the physically peak of their lives, they are usually at the social peak.
Their social networks at this age are usually highly complex and turning 18 opens the doors to a once prohibited world full of new adventures and experiences, such as going clubbing, driving and being classed as an adult. However many adolescence’ find it hard to transition to adulthood as they no longer have the burdens of high school pressures and friends. This also creates problems for people who only have social networks that they have from school meaning when school is over they need to adapt to a new environment and become independent.
This can be emotional and daunting for many youth. Middle age is a crisis for many people both men and women. It is a time when they have left the excitement and potential of their youth, instead they reflect back on where they have come from and often look with dread towards their older years, in Ray Lawyers Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll this period of time effects many characters negatively as they cannot accept they are aging and thus see change as a daunting factor.
Roo, the ganger of a team of cane cutters, realises he is ageing when his back gives way and he is forced to step down as top dog. Since he was young he had been a cane cutter, that was his identity but because of his ageing body, his identity will change as he can no longer be a cane cutter, this not only affects Roo but also Olive. Olive has been in the group since it started seventeen summers ago and is reflecting on her life so far, remembering the times when Roo and Barney would come down South to see her and Nancy during the layoff.
However since Nancy has left the group to go get married, Olive realises that she is turning 40 soon and is still clinging to her glory days. In order to keep her “youth” she has decorated the lounge room with the keepsake dolls to testify her persistence on keeping the group together and displaying her symbols of youth. With Olives obsession of keeping the group together revels a woman who cannot accept that she is getting older and who can adjust to the new era in her identity.
For olive, the change of getting older is not physically but more physiological as she sees this change as losing her youth. Although middle age is not always negative for everyone. Although Nancy is the catalyst for the group’s breakdown, she realises that she can no longer act like a youth, as she did with Olive and the group and as such has accepted the fact that she is getting older, hence why she abandoned her friends to settle down and get married to start the next chapter in her life.
Although many people believe it’s the best years of life as it is the only “time you really live as the young are slaves to dreams; the old are servants of regrets. Only the middle aged have all their 5 senses in the keeping of their wits. ” The last period of life that has been categorised as “old age” and is now considered to be after 65. Some people choose to accept old age as a positive as they have lived their lives and are now in retirement.
Many elderly people see being able to retire as being able to act like they are young again as they have completed the majority of lives responsibilities, such as rearing children and working for a living, this gives many the opportunity to travel and do what they desire but at a cost. Having lived for such a long time has taken a physical toll on the body, it is weaker and more frail then that of a youthful person, hence why some older people see old age as a negative.
They feel as though they are stuck inside an “old carcass” and believe that “nature is cruel; tis jest to make old age look like a fool; (because) the body crumbles, grace and vigour depart” No matter what age you are there will always be a positive and a negative but regardless of this, age will always influence your identity as it changes your thoughts as you become wiser and more knowledgeable about the world around you. Throughout each age group you will have new realisations about the environment you live in and this will cause a physiological or physiological a change which influences your identity.

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