The following poem appears in the Midrash, a centuries-old collection of commentaries on Jewish scripture:
A person has three names:
one that he is called by his father and mother;
one that people know him by,
and one that he acquires for himself.
What is this poem suggesting about the ways we come to understand our identities? What stories from this chapter could illustrate this poem?
- The Bear That Wasn’t is a children’s book that reflects universal questions about the relationship between the individual and society. How do you see ideas from Reading 1, "The Bear That Wasn’t," echoed in some of the other readings throughout this chapter?
- In the reading The Danger of a Single Story, Chimamanda Adichie warns of “the danger of a single story.” What does she mean? What other readings in this chapter illustrate this danger? Which ones suggest ways to overcome the danger of a single story?
- Legal scholar Martha Minow writes, “When we simplify and sort, we focus on some traits rather than others, and we assign consequences to the presence and absence of the traits we make significant.” What are some of the “traits we make significant” in our society? Do you think some traits and differences matter more than others, and if so, why? Who decides which traits matter most? What readings from this chapter have had the strongest influence on your thinking about these questions?