Personal Identity In Shel Silverstein's 'The Missing Piece'

Decent Essays
In Shel Silverstein’s “The Missing Piece” there are many underlying themes of personal identity and the role of the “self”. The story brings up several interesting questions: What role does the physical body of the character play in forming its “self”? When it does find the right fit, is it still the same being? And it also brings into examination the quote from Socrates— “The unexamined life is not worth living”. Each plays a role in forming the “self” of the protagonist of, “The Missing Piece”. The primary question to ask is what role does the physical appearance, the “body”, play in the formation of self? The physicality of the protagonist is the most obvious aspect of the self. The character is physically missing a piece a piece…show more content…
It’s a tough question to answer. If you were to look at it from the perspective of Heraclitus who said, “You could not step in the same river twice” then the answer would be no, it is not the same being. There was a specific and substantial change in the being, so it could not be the same. If a river is never the same river twice due to the subtle changes it experiences, then the character from the story certainly can’t be considered the same. Unless you consider them to be two different beings, the protagonist and the missing piece simply traveling together. In that case, it would be the same and would also not have gained any completion of self or identity through the addition of the missing piece. However, it does seem to change with the addition of the missing piece, even if we consider them two different beings: it can no longer sing and be happy, and it doesn’t stop along the way to smell the flowers, or talk to the worm, or let the butterfly land on it. So it seems like, perhaps it is not the same being when it finds the missing piece, but that this is not due to a completion of its identity or self, but maybe a loss of self. It loses those aspects which previously defined the self: the singing, the slow moving, and the appreciation of the world surrounding
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