Throughout Ali Smith’s There but for the, many of the characters in this novel struggle with who they are. The term “identity crisis” would be an understatement for some these characters. However, each character’s poor sense of identity is represented by a struggle within the self. This lack of self-knowledge towards their own identities leads to their own madness to develop. The first character that I would like to discuss is Mark, who strangely enough most of this story is centered around. Mark is confounded by his own sexuality and his is disillusioned with his relationship to reality. And as much as he tries to keep it under control, he has urges that go beyond our everyday parameters. As well his touch with reality has been lost when we find out he still talks to his mother even though she died 47 years earlier.
Another character to point out would be Genevieve who struggles with who she is by speaking for others such as in the first chapter entitled There, where she discusses Mark’s sexual orientation out in the open, She does this knowing that he is a closeted homosexual which ends up looking as a disrespectful gesture mainly because she takes away Mark’s own ability to be out in open himself that he is gay. In that sense, Genevieve does this because with all of the social problems she suffers from, she feels like this older sister or even motherly figure towards Mark and his dilemma but in actuality struggles with this care for herself.
To conclude there are other characters who have represented this side of a lost sense of identity, but the two best examples can be seen through Mark and Genevieve. Mark represents the need for acceptance for who he is, whether that is presented by his homosexuality (including his somewhat scandalous relationship with a man 20 years younger than him); or his disturbed relationship with his mother even after her death. Genevieve represents the need to be a caregiver for Mark even though she has a lot to take of in terms of her own issues.
Ever since the dawn of civilizations, imperialism has played a major yet pessimistic role on society and culture. There are four major issues that have resulted from imperialism. Cultural assimilation; cultural endangerment; cultural and environmental exploitation; and cultural diaspora. From the Romans to the Napoleonic, the conquest of a widespread empire has been a driving force for imperialism. However, after witnessing the all of the different collections of artifacts from nearly every civilization, there is no doubt that no empire has exemplified imperialism better than the British Empire. From half of the African continent; India; Pakistan; China; Japan to our own nation, the U.S.A.; Southwestern and South-central Canada; and Jamaica; for over 350 years British colonialism and imperialism ruled the world. The British Museum is a prime example of these distraught feelings being represented in the form of preserved artifacts from these fallen nations. For example when I saw the collections from orient I asked myself; why is this amazing statue of the Buddha displayed here in England when the birthplace of this work of art is in India?
It all goes back to how the culture was brought here to England which was a major result of imperialism. In this sense of realizing the imperialistic intentions of empires like Great Britain especially back then, it was taken from the native land and brought here not to preserve its history but to preserve the history of Great Britain’s glory and power. Do not get me wrong, I thought of my excursion to the British Museum to be one of awe-inspiring proportions. To see the legendary Rosetta Stone; one of the only existing copies of the Parthenon; or as I mentioned before the different statues of the Buddha; it was truly an amazing experience. But as I said before these artifacts should be displayed in their area of origin not in the nation who stole them from all of the different tribes and native people of these lands. To conclude, I feel my share of excitement to see such historic treasures but I personally would feel better if I knew that these artifacts were displayed in their country of origin. Whether it is a collection from Egypt, or a collection from China; imperialism is the main reason we see these artifacts displayed there still to this day.