American Architecture : Constructing An Identity

Better Essays

American Architecture: Constructing an Identity Throughout American history, people have been categorized based on what gender they are, and what their race is. In order to explore these ideas and come to terms with their importances many musicians, film makers, and authors have described the inner-workings of this societal construct. Indeed, both racial and female identities have been at the epicenter of many works of art throughout American culture as can be seen in: Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane, film “Modern Times,” Bessie Smith’s “T’ain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do,” and James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. For starters, both Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Crane and “Modern Times” describe a …show more content…

Ellen is an orphaned girl who appears to have agency up until the point that she runs into Charlie Chaplin who plays a factory worker. Once again, the theme of upward mobility is shown with consumerism. This is alluring to Ellen and she becomes romantically involved with Chaplin. Prior to this, Ellen appears to have great agency with her ability to maneuver for herself and her siblings even though she is extremely poor. However, once the idea of acquire more than what is needed to survive comes into play the audience sees that she is satisfied with just being a housewife for Chaplin. This film greatly exemplifies the complexities of the female identity because Ellen is clearly a woman who could posses independence, but seemingly leaves that behind for the life of a housewife. The film however takes a turn when Ellen is revealed to be a dancer at a local restaurant. By being a working woman, Ellen solidifies to the audience that she is an independent woman with complete agency. Thus, her relationship with Chaplin is merely a romantic interest and not a way to gain social mobility as was seen with Maggie. This movie shows the progression of a woman with agency. Similarly, in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Crane develops a strong female character with Nellie. Crane describes Nellie as, "A woman with brilliance and audacity" (Crane 62). As a female character she is much more like Ellen from "Modern Times" than she is like Maggie. In fact, Maggie seems

Get Access
Get Access