Identity

Identity is an important theme in the novel City of Glass by Paul Auster. Most of the characters have a complex relationship with their identities. Peter Stillman, for example, rejects his, while Daniel Quinn takes on multiple identities trying to avoid his own.

From the start, we realize that the main character has issues with his identity. He writes under a pen name, but he does not recognize William Wilson as being the same person he is. In fact, Quinn identifies more with the character and narrator of his detective novels, Max Work. This is probably one of the reasons why he decides to pretend he is a detective. Max Work’s identity will become stronger as time passes. For example, while he is fantasizing about Virginia Stillman, Quinn admits that he is “confusing himself with Max Work” (Chapter 8, 36%).

Quinn’s desire to escape his identity has to do with the loss of his wife and son five years ago. Although Quinn has more or less come to terms with their deaths, the event has had a profound impact on him and has changed who he used to be. He feels as if he has “managed to outlive himself, as if he was somehow living a posthumous life” (Chapter 1, 25%). Quinn has survived the tragedy, but...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of PrimeStudyGuides.com, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in