Literary Analysis Essay on "Voices of the Self"

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  887 Words
Date:  2022-10-19


"Voices of the Self "by Keith is a book that analyses the linguistic and cultural collision that African-American students face in public school system. In the book, the author narrates how black students manage to access education as he explains the tension that exists between the use of Black English and Standard English and how that tension causes the perpetual conflict between white culture and black culture.

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In his book, Keith explains how language can be a powerful tool for empowerment. It is through education that students can acquire language which the empowering tool. He even creates two different selves where one is Keith while the other is Raymond. Even though the two represents one person, Keith uses this strategy explain how the characters represent the educational system that used to be there and how the minority survived that discrimination and segregation.

Gilyard gives the position of pluralism in education where he provides his own experience and that of the others in the education system. As an African-American boy, Keith was uprooted from his atmosphere and placed in a divided environment what made him suffer a lot. After his first grade, his family moved from Harlem to Queens where they had mixed races but the African-American and white children went to different schools, yet they came from the same neighbourhood. Their family lived near a school where all white-American children learnt so he was forced to learn with white children and that made him felt separated from his culture.

Gilyard explains his loss of identity among the white children by describing his experience for the first twenty-four hours in his new school. When he first appeared in his new school, he adopted a new personality. He was the lonely black pupil in his class who presumed new character and was called by new name. He became an individual with a name rarely used or known in school. According to him, he believed that his real name and personality did not suit in the school. He felt like an outsider while in school. The author also talks about an African-American college student who had to be followed to school by guards. James Meredith had to be accompanied by guards since he was frequently attacked by people who did not want blacks to attend that institution. The illustrations explain how America was immersed in racism in the 1960s.

In his opinion, Keith argues that there are other cultures in America apart from the white culture plus may more languages other than English like the Black English that need to be accepted in schools. According to the author, children are bound to lose their identity within the schools if their cultures continue to be ignored. It will force the children to search for their identity in other places that make them have a bad experience in life. In my opinion, children will feel more at home when their languages are made part of the system, and they will seize the struggle that they go through when it comes to the language they use at home and that used in school.

Keith goes beyond the school system when he talks about pluralism. By making references to the American history, Gilyard explains pluralism in America and how it leads to non-acceptance, non-acknowledgement and disrespect to the cultural diversity within the USA. I concur with the author on the idea that most immigrants tend to lose their identity following pluralism in American society. Most of them are forced to adopt the white culture to survive in the country.

The book explains how urban black-Americans use English and learn dialects different from the Black English that usually characterize their initial speech pattern. Gilyard experiences during his childhood in school and society explain everything about the segregation other cultures experience in America. It also describes how students tend to separate from their identity following the school system that is in place. They feel lonely and inferior when with white-American children since they have to abandon their cultures and adopt the ones that are incorporated in the system. They have to act and behave like whites making them lose their identity altogether. Keith is trying to explain how monoculture school system is harmful to non-white students who come from various cultural backgrounds whose cultures are not acknowledged in the school system. Despite the changes that have taken place over the years, students still find it hard to navigate the tension between home and school because much has not been done in incorporating all cultures in the educational system.


Despite the acceptance of multiculturalism and some civilization in American schools, there is still no school where all cultures are represented in America. It is true that America embraces several civilizations following a large number of immigrants present. Most people migrating to America come with various linguistic communication and traditions making a diverse country. Being a multicultural nation, America should accept all the civilization that exist within it. They should make the immigrant children feel they accepted in the schools by incorporating their culture into the system. It is necessary for other languages apart from English or historical figures from various backgrounds must be recognized as they learn American history. Keith's idea of the multicultural school system can help solve racism that is still in America.

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Literary Analysis Essay on "Voices of the Self". (2022, Oct 19). Retrieved from

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