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The Importance of Discovering Your Identity in Brother Dear by Bernice Friesen

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Finding oneself, discovering your own individuality, is simply a discovery that is found through the journey of life. In “Brother Dear”, Bernice Friesen’s use of foil exposes the importance of discovering your identity within an environment that promotes traditional social conventions. Greg influences Sharlene to make her dream a reality “You’re not what you do. You’re who you are.” Greg believes that he should have the freedom to make his own decisions as it may allow him to reach the point he sees himself in the future, as well as it is his life, and not his father’s, and these beliefs transfer onto Sharlene. When Greg storms out of the house, his actions show he does not want to follow in his father’s footprints. His decision to drop out of university is a personal victory for Greg. Greg has chosen his own happiness over his father’s chosen pathway. In addition, Greg skipping his final exam further proves his principles and ideas. They are so important in Gregs life, that he believes he needs to stand up for what he believes in. Therefore, Greg plays an important role in Sharlene’s thoughts more than her own father. Furthermore, Sharlene expresses a strong desire to travel abroad post-graduation, but knows is she does, it will put a damper not only on her relationship with her father, but her father’s vision for her as well. Instead of going to University of Alberta like her older brothers, Sharlene has “these dreams of running off to Europe for a couple of years, being a nanny and learning a language or two.”

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However Sharlene’s father is her biggest obstacle in her plan as his vision contradicts with the one she imagines for herself. Sharlene knows that it is very hard to convince her father to support her dreams, as he wants her to pursue university because he regrets not being able to do so. However, Jack fails to understand that a higher education may not be the right path for his some of his children. Sharlene develops her own identity after her brother Greg leaves, and Sharlene tells herself “Someday I will[run away]- to Europe.” Doing so, she hopes to open the door to her future dreams instead of her father’s. Sharlene is at a point in her life where she needs to decide whether, to satisfy her father’s wishes, or to pursue her own dreams, and aspirations. Lastly, Greg’s definitive moment of his own self-identity is after his father snaps at him for having to his son’s pay tuition and rent. After Jack snaps at Greg saying “So, I’m paying your rent and tuition at the best university in the west so you can fart away your time, huh?”(30) to which Greg calmly responds “Some things are more important.”

When Greg stands up to his father it shows the reader that Greg truly has his own identity that has nothing to do with his father. Greg has set a path that he is happy with, and does not care what his father thinks about it. With his own identity, Greg is happy, and content. Sharlene is in the middle of both arguments, and finds it hard to pick a side. In conclusion, Sharlene’s choices are all affected by her father’s understanding, and Greg’s principles about choosing the ‘right’ path.

Therefore, through the rebellious acts of Greg, between his father, self-identity clearly explains that discovering your own value in society has a significant role in living a successful, and content life. Self-realization starts from within, and eventually flows onto others.

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