"On the Rainy River"

The relationship you have with others often has a direct effect on the basis of your very own personal identity. In the essay “On The Rainy River,” the author Tim O’Brien tells about his experiences and how his relationship with a single person had effected his life so dramatically. It is hard for anyone to rely fully on their own personal experiences when there are so many other people out there with different experiences of their own. Sometimes it take the experiences and knowledge of others to help you learn and build from them to help form your own personal identity. In the essay, O’Brien speaks about his experiences with a man by the name of Elroy Berdahl, the owner of the fishing lodge that O’Brien stays at while on how journey to find himself. The experiences O’Brien has while there helps him to open his mind and realize what his true personal identity was. It gives you a sense than our own personal identities are built on the relationships we have with others. There are many influence out there such as our family and friends. Sometimes even groups of people such as others of our nationality and religion have a space in building our personal identities.

In the essay O’Brien is faced with a conflict, a moral dilemma. He had to decide whether he was either going to go to the war and fight or was he going to run away and avoid the draft. The relationship he had with Berdahl was not of friends or even regular acquaintances. Rather they were perfect strangers. That goes to show you that anyone can be a major influence on your life. Berdahl helped to open O’Brien’s heart. He realized who he was and where he had come from, his past and what he has been through. How all the events of the past helped him to become the person he was right now. How his past helped form his personal identity.

The formation of our own personal identities often begin at birth. As you grow up your parents are a major influence on you. They teach you many things and help to shape your personal identity. They teach you the basics, from knowing right from wrong to your basic moral values. Your moral values are often built upon the basic morals your parents have and what they have taught you in return. Since you are young you often believe that everything your parents say and do is always right and you look up to that. When you do something wrong your parents are always quick to correct you and show you that what you have done is not right. Your parents can only teach you so much. They do the best they can to the extent of their knowledge. Some things we have to learn on our own. That’s what makes us humans. We learn from our personal mistakes and build upon that. The many things you gain from your parents are often carried on with you throughout your life and will be passed around to other people and someday even your very own children.

You are also influenced greatly by the people around you. Such as other family members, friends, and other groups of your peers. They help to form aspects of yourself such as your personality. The type of friends you have are a major influence on your personal identity. You often try to fit into the group. They motivate you to do certain things to act a certain way. They affect not only your mental identity but also your physical identity as well. Like how your look and how you dress. How you get along with people and how you treat others is often an affected by the group of people you are around most of the time. Your friends can also help to form your personal identity in the same ways your parents do. They can teach you moral values and tell you when you are doing something wrong. Also often the more friends you have can form the type of person you are such as how you act. If you have more friends you are generally a more open person and it is easy fro you to communicate with others. If you have less friends you often become more of a shy person and keep to yourself more often. Either way your friends help build your moral character and your personal identity.

Another major influence is your nationality. Your nationality forms who you are and how other people look at you. People often treat others of different nationalities differently. This in turn forms how you look at people of different decent also. Traditions within your nationality help to form some of your moral values also. The way your ancestors lived and what kind of people the were are a major influence on Vietnamese traditions. Your traditions help you to from certain aspects of your moral value. In Vietnamese tradition, who you are is very important. You are brought up on very peaceful morals. Religion is also a major part of the Vietnamese tradition. Vietnamese families are often very religious. Whether being either Buddhist or Catholic out religious beliefs are very important to us. Religion is a very essential part of our daily lives, many of our basic morals and values come from the practice of religion. Families often keep a very strong bond between each other. You learn how to respect others such as your parents and elders. Traditions teach you many things. Even the little things like your daily habits, such as saying good bye to your parents when you leave in the morning for school and greeting them when you come home. They are all things that help to form your traditions and who you are.

No one is ever alone. Everyone is influenced by others. Our personal identities are based on the relationships with have with others. They help us to form who we are. Relationships are very vital to making us unique in our own ways. That combination of all that we learn come together to help us realize that without relationships how would we would we be able to build on our personal identity. Whether being from out parents, friends, or peers. It is clear that they all play an important role in the framework of our personal identities.

James Media Vs Reality

What do you think of when you hear the name Jesse James? Most will think of the romantic gun slinging days of the old west, when your only friends were the revolver at your side and your trusty horse. Much of the truth of the old west is shrouded for the more appealing ideas of freedom and excitement. Media has made a huge contribution to the romanticizing of the old west. Movies television shows and books add an appealing glimmer to the old west. Jesse James and the James gang have been used as tools through out history to glorify the vigilante way of life in the old west. Because of this their life stories have been twisted over time in many different ways to suit the needs of the writers. Jesse James and the James Gang have done two huge things for America’s perception of the old west and the crime of those times. On the surface Jesse and the gang become archetypal heroes and have set the basis for popular and mostly fictional literature that is a huge part of Americas culture and when you dig deeper they become an important lesson of how the hardships of the old west can harden a person to a criminal.
At a first and superficial glance James was a gun slinging Robin Hood figure that has become a hero to many people. The most popular stories in American literature start the tales after Jesse had formed the James Younger gang and they started their amazing and infamous robberies that spread across the west. Jesse, his brother Frank, and the three Younger brothers, along with many accomplices gained and lost along the way committed many recorded robberies that accounted for over 250,000 in loses for banks and businesses. What was done with this money of course could never have been recorded but the popular tales say that James gave huge portions to the unfortunate wanderers of the west who were down on their luck. This formed Jesse’s Robin Hood figure and many other stories of old west vigilantes followed suit. Legends of Billy the Kid suggested that he had a heart of gold. Supposedly many of his robberies were strictly for the benefit of the less fortunate as well. American culture took to heart all of these wild tales for other reasons as well. Especially the idea of the complete freedom of adventure these men seemed to have. The gang traveled the west with out restriction robbing and stealing all that they needed and killing every one in their way. It seems quite sway from the traditional set homes and working for money that set in soon after the old western times. Imagine that instead of going to work tomorrow you got up when ever you wanted, when you got hungry you went down to the local store and stole as much food and whiskey as you wanted, and if any one had anything to say about you shot them and then moved on to the next town. Sounds quite appealing to the every day working man but of course the grass is always greener….
James and the gang became heroes to many keeping alive the romanticism of the old west and keeping it part of the American culture. There are still many people today that enjoy collecting James gang and other old west memorabilia; there are also the endless movies and books that tell of his adventures. I even came across a web sight where you can swear fealty to some one whom is supposedly a direct bloodline to Jesse James and become part of the modern day James Gang. Trademark of all heroes James death is in supposed dispute. Although it is highly respected that James was killed by one of his own gang members for the large reward on James head there are many tales that say that James lived to the age of 104 and did many more amazing robberies and adventures before he finally died. Much like the infamous Elvis sightings and tales of Government conspiracy around Jim Morrison’s death. Like any hero people find ways to keep them alive even after their physical life has ended. James in his gang became American legends through media twisted stories and added much to America’s culture concerning the old west.
Unfortunately these tales are just that, twisted stories. James real story is not pretty or glorifying when it comes down to the bear bones of the facts. His is a story of a hardened criminal quick to steal and even quicker to murder. James real story starts well before the James Gang even formed. Jesse was born September 5 1847. His father died too soon after for James to even remember him. As Jesse grew up his mother went through two other husbands who were both always either too far away or too drunk to be a father to Jesse. The lack of a father figure took its toll on Jesse as at the age of 16 Jesse left home to join “Bloody” Bill Anderson’s guerilla forces against the union army. These guerillas were notorious for making attacks on sleeping and off guard soldiers with the intent of completely wiping them out. Take no prisoners. Jesse had surrounded himself with brutal killers at a very impressionable age. They showed him respect only in fear of their lives. Jesse learned to shoot very quickly simply to survive and became quite a sharp shooter. Traveling with the guerillas through out the war had given Jesse a cold uncaring and hardened posterior.
As the force went along its way destroying union forces where ever they could James became quite a high ranker among the guerillas. This, of course, among the brutes was only measured by how many you killed or how much the others feared you but Jesse had grown used to the rough ways. Most who confronted James ended up dead or learned never to get in the way again. Jesse continued with the forces until a battle in 1865 left him with a chest wound.
Jesse left the forces to recuperate and upon recovering met up with his brother Frank and the three Younger Brothers Cole, Jim, and Bob to start a crime spree that would last ten years. The band of criminals was an ever-changing pool of scum. They picked up and lost accomplices along the way as they stole and killed their way round running form the law when the heat was too much. The recorded robberies backed up by bank files and businesses making criminal reports took place mostly in Missouri and Kentucky but where spread to Texas, Arkansas, and Iowa as well. In total the losses were over 250,000 dollars and none of Jesse’s supposed Robin Hood acts whereever recorded. More important than the money losses the loss in lives never seemed to phase James or his gang much either. On many occasions innocent were killed most would be the bank clerk or a train worker that would not cooperate but in some cases innocent bystanders where hit by stray bullets and where killed. The only backed up act of kindness that ever surfaced was a copy of a letter Jesse had written to the family of a bank clerk apologizing for his unfortunate demise explaining that Jesse had merely intended to injure the man because he would not cooperate. This later came along with a small some of money meant to compensate for the loss of the father of a family. There are even a few records of children being killed by Jesse’s gang. Being the hero that he is supposed to be you would think he would think twice about starting another shoot out after a child died in a gunfight. Of course, Jesse was not a hero simply a hardened criminal out for blood and money.
James existence was blotched all over the western United States, as he liked to have portraits of himself done. Portraits of James have been proven to have been done in Nashville, California, and Nebraska. As the robberies continued many stage coaches banks and trains were hit by the James Younger Gang. The invincible James Gang never seemed to miss their mark but they would soon prove to be more human than the stories tell. The reign of the James Younger gang ended ten years after it began in 1876 when a shoot out took out the younger brothers and all most all of the James gang. Jesse and his brother were the only ones to escape with out being captured or killed. They were both however badly injured and seeking refuge from the law to recover. James and Frank disappear as criminals for about three years the only recorded history of them is that Frank has a child with his wife Annie 1878. Soon after the James resurface in a short spree of robberies from 1879 to 1881. Their final robbery on September 7 1881 was the end of Jesse James criminal career. Jesse how ever had always surrounded himself with greedy murders and for this he would pay dearly.
Jesse assumes the name Tom Howard and finally settles down with his wife and children in St Joseph, MO on December 24, 1881. It seemed that Jesse had completely evaded the law no one knew what happened to Jesse James except a few close friends and some gang members. Jesse of course had quite price on his head by now and it was advertised quite well by those famous wanted dead or alive signs posted all over the western united states. The 10,000-dollar reward was worth more to Bob Ford than any mans life. This ex-gang member knew of Jesse’s whereabouts and had plotted his murder for over a year before Jesse retired from crime. Now that Jesse’s guard was down Ford saw the perfect time to strike. April 3, 1882 Ford and his brother enter James home and shoot the unsuspecting James in the back of the head ending his criminal reign quite abruptly. A suitable death for the life he led. Ford never got the money he was shot in the back shortly there after by another criminal who Ford thought he could trust. It seemed that was the fate of most of the old western “heroes”.
Over all James and his gang were really quite terrible people. They did cold bloodedly kill many people and often each other over money or small disputes. If you look at the sugarcoated image taken to heart by American culture, sure these guys could be neat heroes to look up to and have a little fun with fantasizing about. Looking at the true story told by the recorded facts however you can easily see how the ways of the west were quite brutal and unforgiving. Either side of James is important to history one adding to the culture of the old west and the other teaching an important lesson about the hardships of Old west. Jesse did though go down in history and looking at the facts and seeing him as the cold criminal he was or looking at the media image he is still there either way burned into U S History for time passed and time to come.

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