Identity in Solar Storms

Identity in Solar Storms

Solar Storms by Linda Hogan is a stunning novel published in 1995 about the life of a young girl who is searching for her identity. Hogan uses the natural aspects of the world to help the main character, Angel, find her identity and way of life. Identity is defined as a characteristic of a persons being and being who you are or what you are. Angel finds herself being identified through the scars on her body, just like her mother was.

“One day I dropped the mirror and it broke into many pieces. For a while I kept these, looking at only the parts of my face at a time. Then I had no choice but to imagine myself, along with the parts and fragments of stories, as if it all was part of a great brokenness moving, trying to move, toward wholeness-a leg, an arm, a putting together, the way Bush put together the animal bones” (85). This passage is when Angel is showing the reader her personal feelings toward the scars and imperfections on her body. This paragraph shows the identity that Angel starts off with in the beginning of the novel. She sees herself as a girl with scars, foster homes, and no mother. But when she goes to be with Agnes and Dora, her grandmother and great grandmother, she slowly starts gaining a greater understanding of her own self.

The fight to find ones identity through nature and stories allows for this book to create a world of different events and possibilities. Angel listens to the description of her mothers body while reflecting upon her own and she is gathering the information she is longing for. Dora states, “Beneath all the layers of clothes, her skin was a garment of scars. There were burns and incisions. Like someone had written on her. The signatures of torturers, I call them now. I was overcome” (99) when Angel is hearing these horrifying things about her mother she is putting together the pieces of why she is, the way she is. For her to hear these sad things that her mother went through it fills Angel with compassion, showing the reader that this is one of her characteristics into her identity.

Angel is a seventeen year old girl, she is searching for answers, for love, and for comfort. She at first finds this comfort with Dora and Agnes but as she goes to the island with Bush she starts her journey toward becoming whole. The relationship that Angel creates with these three other women is what makes her whole as well. Their experiences are all blended and together they are a family. To be whole Angel has to not only find satisfaction with herself but also with nature. “I thought about how things on the island were all in parts like my mirror. Even the land there was broken. Perhaps that is what I went there to do, to put together all the pieces of history, of my life an my mother’s, to make something whole” (86). After this passage the story goes on to talk about how the forest is changing, the trees aren’t there anymore, and that business is becoming part of the world.

Angel goes to find her mother when she hears that she is close. She travels alone through the winter snow to a cabin where her mother has been staying. Two men answer the door and they said she was barely breathing. Hannah, her mother laid there not moving with shallow breaths. She sees the scars for the first time through her own eyes and realizes the similarities between them, not only through blood but through physical description. Angel finds her baby sister outside in a box and that is when another connection comes into play. She now has a sister and her mother was doing the same thing to her sister as she did to her. Leaving her alone, outside and in a box in the middle of winter. As Angel stood over her mother watching her die the novel quotes, “I was a woman, full and alive. After that, I made up my mind to love in whatever ways I could. I would find it in myself to love the woman who had given life to me, the woman a priest had called a miracle in reverse, the one who had opened her legs to men and participated in the same life creating act as God” (251). Angel in this scene finds herself forgiving her mother as much as she can for what she did. This creates her whole identity. All of these situations that she has gone through is what created Angel’s identity. Forgiveness, hope, family, love, and nature sculpt her new life and new identity.

 

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