Intellectual Passing: An Exploration of the Identity of the Genius from the Working Class

3746 WordsJun 22, 201815 Pages
Within a community, there are differences among the individuals, both subtle and obvious. Emphasizing the differences in intellectual ability, the definition of the genius is a person of great individual talent and ability that far exceeds that of their peers. In that context, the genius comes from all walks of life, yet, inevitably, becomes conflicted with issue of identification. The genius is simply unlike his or her peers, yet desires to identify with their community. In this, the puzzle and conundrum that is the genius is revealed. Focusing on the lower class, a person of great and immense intellect is born into a community where their peers cannot fathom the depths of the individual’s genius. Because the community cannot offer…show more content…
Intellectual passing concerns the issue of intellectual gifting in an individual that exceeds that of their peers, yet they choose to ignore or neglect their gift in order to blend in with the community. Intellectual passing is unique, because it argues that the gifted individual does not simply pass in a singular direction. Passing and identity are heavily intertwined, so as passing “encompasses multiple coordinates”, “identity is multifaceted” (Moriel 174, 172). Intellectual passing is not restricted to the traditional linear pass, but rather, intellectual passing concerns a dual passing that encompasses the original and assumed identity. The genius passes as a working class member, because they do not identify with their community, yet they are a part of the community. On the other hand, the genius also passes as a member of the upper class, because they are capable of achieving financial and material success, which oftentimes leads to social success, yet they are working class members. Intellectual passing consists of the struggle between the genius’ desire to belong and desire to succeed. The figure of the genius can be exemplified in the character, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), from the movie, Good Will Hunting (Van Sant, 1997). Will is a member of the working class of South Boston, a community of low socioeconomic standing in the shadow of Harvard. Despite his upbringing, he stands out from his peers

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