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Will Grayson, Will Grayson: Identity Essay

The definition of identity, to me, is who you are- not who you want to be. It consists of the mental, physical and emotional characteristics that set one person apart from the rest of the crowd and define who a character really is. John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson focuses on identity as a theme, illustrating coming of age, searching for who you are, who you need in your life, and also on sexual identity and orientation, which many young adult writers today consider too edgy or sensitive a topic.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson details the lives of two very externally different high school students, both coincidentally named Will Grayson, whose lives become linked through unlikely circumstances. Both Wills mentally have their similarities regarding identity: what they see as their purpose in life, how they want to be viewed by others, and how they want to deal with their emotions. The first Will Grayson tries his best to keep to himself(much in contrast to his flamboyant best friend Tiny Cooper) as he believes it will prevent him from creating too much conflict in his life, living unexamined and routine.

He doesn’t quite know who he is or what his purpose is at this point but has no plans of changing his lifestyle. That is, up until a girl named Jane enters his life, and he starts to take risks and think more about himself and how to cope with the feelings he’s really not prepared for. He begins considering things, asking questions, and doing things he never would have without Jane coming into his life; the once quiet and reserved Will who had avoided love found himself wanting her, feeling vulnerable, and taking risks like obtaining a fake ID to go to clubs and stag shops.

The second Will Grayson however seems to think he has a solid, if not stubborn, grasp on who he is. After struggling with depression for years he has given up fighting it and decides to try to coexist peacefully with it in his life and has accepted his fate as being unhappy forever. Will however is facing a serious identity crisis; he is unable to come to terms with his own homosexuality. Though he has a boyfriend and he is acutely aware of the fact that he is attracted to other men, he can barely admit it to himself.

He does everything in his power to appear straight and hide anything that could possibly hint towards him being gay. He hides himself both physically and emotionally from the outside world behind a computer screen and avoids talking to anyone other than his boyfriend, Isaac, at all costs. The turning points in Will’s life are when he discovers Isaac is a fake identity created by his friend Maura to coax him into coming out to her as gay; and when Will meets Tiny Cooper and our first Will in Chicago, where the worlds of our two Will Graysons collide.


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