Our identity is the fact of being who we are. It includes factors such as our abilities, our physical and personal attributes, our occupation, our interests and hobbies and our values. Self-identity is not just about who we currently are but it includes our past selves and our future selves. Our future selves are what we dream to be; our future self is restricted by our fears or perceived threats but it is motivated by our goals, hopes, and dreams. The way in which we handle the obstacles in our life and face our challenges lie within clarity of our identity. Our identity and the choices that we make as a result of who we are determines whether we live our life with purpose, or live a life of disintegration. In Atwood's "Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer" and in Seamus Heaney's "Digging" the theme of identity is central to the success of one character living his life with purpose and the collapsing of another.
In the poem "Digging," the speaker's success is held within his identity. The speaker of "Digging" struggles with his identity in relationship to his family. His father and grandfather were farmers and they valued hard work and labor. "The old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man" (15-16). By including these memories and recalling on the traditions of his family, the speaker is able to recognize why it is hard for him to turn away from his family history and choose a different path as a writer. The speaker accepts that writing is not the same type of work that was done by his father and grandfather, but in the end he seems content with his identity and is determined to continue "digging" with his pen. As he watches his dad work on the flower bed the "living roots'' (27) as in the origins, and traditions begin to "awaken in (his) head" (27) as memories are flooding his thoughts. The speaker has also chosen to depart from the history of his home country, Ireland that during the 20th century went through a period of religious and political uproar between the Catholics and the Protestants.