english 270 paper 1

english 270 paper 1 - September 24, 2011 English 270 Paper...

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September 24, 2011 English 270 Paper #1 Does a signifier really change your life? Sara Jane in, Imitation of Life, is a strong character that has a lot of desire to make something of herself . She is however black, but can pass for white. She is lacking the signifier that would categorize her into the “negro” community . For Sarah Jane, not having the signifier of being black helps her pursue her desire to make something of herself, but also gets her into trouble when her secret is revealed . Her signifier then becomes who she is and she cannot escape that part of her identity so she runs . For Sarah Jane, her signifier, being black, holds back her dream, so to reach her desire she passes . Everyone everywhere, whether they realize it or not, has previous construed ideas and beliefs about strangers . They are called stereotypes. It’s referred to as judging a book by its cover even though a lot of the time it’s not true . Each trait in the stereotype is called a signifier . These signifiers come to be because the person judging has either has a memory that supports the stereotype or they have learned it from the culture around them . This is where the term passing comes into play . Passing can mean a few things, but in the movie, imitation of Life, it means to pretend to be something you’re not because you can pull it off . In the movie, Sarah Jane is a very fair skinned black. She looks like she would be Italian or of another race, but not confused to be black . When anyone meets her they just assume that she is white because she looks it on the outside . She also wants to be white, so when people mistake her, she does not correct them .
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Floating signifiers do have the ability to change over time . Today, being black is not a bad thing . Blacks have the same jobs as whites and there’s equality. Back in the 60’s and 70’s there wasn’t any equality . To live the American Dream you pretty much had to be white. That
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english 270 paper 1 - September 24, 2011 English 270 Paper...

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