African American author James Baldwin said, "An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience" (Brainy Quotes). The quest to define one's identity is part of the process of growing up. Teenagers and young adults often struggle to define themselves, questioning the religion in which they were raised, to the rules their parents tried to enforce. According to Baldwin, identity is a combination of how a person faces his/her challenges, what he/she learns from those challenges, and how he/she uses those lessons when encountering future challenges. Naturally other factors help shape a person's identity; such as family, religion, educational opportunity, athletic ability, intelligence, and personal experiences. The theme of identity is present in many genres of literature; one of the broadest reaching of these is film. In the film Finding Forrester directed by, an African American teenager struggles to define himself and find his true identity. .
Throughout the film, Jamal Wallace is a very relatable character for young adults and children, including myself. As teenagers we go through our childhood and enter adulthood where we face situations that test our character. Jamal solves his problems and defines his identity by committing to his dreams, maintaining friendships, and taking personal risks. Early in the film, Jamal enjoys writing as an outlet, but it seems more of a hobby than as a means to achieve success. He is one of the only African American kids attending a wealthy prep school, where he discovers he was really recruited more for sports than for his intelligence. Yet, the film shows Jamal is actually a very talented writer. In fact, he is so talented and genuine, he is able to spark a famous author, previously living his life as a hermit, to open up and take a risk. .
In order for someone to define his or her identity, it is imperative that he or she stay committed to that dream or goal.