Daniel Quinn Identity

Decent Essays

Daniel Quinn’s identity, or lack thereof, is at the center of The City of Glass. As readers, it is difficult to determine who exactly Daniel Quinn wishes to be. As Quinn descends into madness throughout the story, he plays with several identities, all of which serve as imperfect placeholders for things in his life that are missing.
At the opening of the story, Quinn is an individual on the verge of a descent into madness. He “no longer wishes to be dead,” but he is far from happiness (Auster 6). With the death of his wife and son, Quinn has lost his sense of purpose, no longer existing “for anyone but himself” (5). This tragic reality sets the stage for the rest of the story. Rather than cope with his grief, Quinn chooses to live under a “triad …show more content…

Throughout the story, Quinn poses as several more people as he becomes involved in a complicated detective case. One night, Quinn answers the phone to a call for help. Peter Stillman is attempting to reach a certain Paul Auster, who is apparently a detective somewhere in New York City. Of course, Quinn is not the one Stillman is looking for, but Quinn decides to play along. He poses as Paul Auster, working on the case that Stillman has brought to him. In an effort to solve the case and protect Stillman, Quinn impersonates several individuals, all of whom are deeply connected in a novel way. Quinn feels a sense of purpose while posing as Paul Auster, a purpose he has been without since the death of his family. Quinn is clearly someone who devotes himself to his work, but this commitment eventually leads to his downfall. After months of posing as Paul Auster, Quinn looks into a mirror and discovers that he has “become someone else” (143). Quinn does not feel “shocked nor disappointed” about this change, further proving that Quinn never really knew who he was to begin with (142). Quinn’s inner detachment makes it easy for him to take on a new identity and understand it relatively …show more content…

Since we never saw Quinn before the death of his family, it is not possible for us to know who Quinn really is. It is quite possible that his family defined his entire identity. Once his family died, he “stopped thinking of himself as real,” instead choosing to simply exist day-to-day (10). Each identity that Quinn uses in City of Glass takes him a step further to rediscovering who he truly is. Although this story never truly resolves Quinn’s identity, the fusion of many personages helps us to realize that discovering one’s identity is not always a straightforward

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