Construction of Identity in Suheir Hammad’s What I will

Gibreel Sadeq Alaghbary


This paper offers insights into the conceptualization of identity in poetry. In particular, it seeks to examine the way the Palestinian-American female poet Suheir Hammad negotiates her textual identity in the poem What I Will. The study uses Mill’s (1995) feminist stylistic theoretical framework in order to identify the identity Hammad constructs for herself in the poem, and the way this textually constructed identity plays out against her cultural heritage and ethnic origin. This objective will be achieved by examining the way textual identity is carried by linguistic choices at the lexical, lexico-grammatical (phrase/sentence) and discourse levels. Analysis reveals a dichotomy constructed via personal pronouns between the speaker and her aggressor. This oppositional relationship is reinforced by the transitivity choices and triggers of presupposition. The speaker uses no gender-specific or sexist nouns and pronouns and no description of her appearance in the textual construction of her identity. Her identity is constructed in terms of her collective ethnic background and resistance to the oppression of her aggressor. 

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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