HL_Essay - Identity in Topdog\/Underdog Of all the great philosophical and psychological discussions the \u201cNature versus Nurture\u201d debate is

HL_Essay - Identity in Topdog/Underdog Of all the great...

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Identity in Topdog/Underdog Of all the great philosophical and psychological discussions, the “Nature versus Nurture” debate is consistently among the most hotly disputed. From a scientific perspective, one might conclude that genetics explain all actions, whereas a behaviorist might point to the relevancy of environmental factors in the development of character. One of the integral arguments of the ‘nurture’ side pertains to the experience of growing up. Childhood events, whether favorable or scarring, have the potential to directly impact one's disposition in adult life. In the play, Topdog/Underdog , by Suzan-Lori Parks, the central characters, brothers Lincoln and Booth, model their upbringing experiences in their adulthood identities. While the pair grow up together, differences in age and responsibility, unstable parental relationships, and differing perceptions of sexuality mean the two pull inconsistent morals from similar events, leading to contrasting motivations and differing characteristics. Many of the brother’s experiences through adolescence were shared, in particular the divorce of their parents. The relationship between parent and child is perhaps the most influential in development of identity and preparation for life’s challenges. However, Booth and Lincoln never experienced the positive impacts of a relationship lasting into adulthood. In conversation about their parents' absence, the brothers admit: “BOOTH. Least we was grown when they split. LINCOLN. 16 and 11 aint grown. BOOTH. 16s grown. Almost. And I was ok cause you were there” (Parks 96-97). Facing the world at the age of 16 without steady guidance is a severe disadvantage. The additional responsibility of having to take care of a sibling is an almost insurmountable burden. Nonetheless, from an early age, Lincoln encounters a necessity to survive and make due, developing the roots of a breadwinner’s role. Meanwhile, Booth is dependent on Lincoln; at age 11, he has much psychological maturing to undergo, especially without nearby adult influence. Divorce has typical effects on Lincoln and Booth, they experience loneliness and a strengthened brotherly bond, each living with a chip on their shoulder. This shared mental blockade is fortified by the lingering sentiment of blame. The brothers express this as they reveal:
“BOOTH. Mom and Pops? LINCOLN. I dont think they liked us...

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