Turns Out You Can Take the Country Out Of the Boy in the Essay, Medfield, Massachusetts by Author John Preston
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Turns Out You Can Take the Country Out Of the Boy
In the essay “Medfield, Massachusetts,” Author John Preston recounts his childhood growing up in a small town. He recalls deep rooted connections to the community and to the history of Medfield. At first it appears that Preston’s identification to his role as a member of his hometown is secure, but as he later reveals, an irreconcilable identity conflict develops which causes him to make a very difficult choice. The theory of the formation of in-groups and their impact on how an individual’s identity is formed offers some insight into what change is taking place to Preston’s identity that will eventually cause him to seek acceptance in a new reference group outside of Medfield, the town he felt so much a part of in his youth.
In his often cited essay, “The Formation of In-Groups,” Gordon Allport offers his theory on how the groups with which one identifies directly influence the development of one’s individual identity. An “in-group” is a group where members share common traits such as societal status, religion, values or sexual orientation. All the members are alike in some way and that similarity unites them as a group. Allport suggests that one belongs to many in-groups throughout his or her lifetime. Individuals are born into some in-groups, such as one’s family, race or socio-economic level; this Allport terms as an “ascribed status”. People also obtain “achieved status” in a group such as one’s circle