Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Explore the way Kay presents Colman and his struggle for identity

Category Anger, Identity, Novel
Words 1001 (4 pages)

Jackie Kay reveals in ‘trumpet’ Colman’s battle and inner conflict to identify himself as an individual rather than the son of a famous trumpeter. Nevertheless, Jackie Kay conveys Colman’s most bitter struggle and his anguish at being unable to relate to himself when the intricate lie of his father Joss Moody is revealed. In the beginning of the novel, in the third chapter, Colman’s voice is portrayed to the readers almost literally as the title of the chapter ‘cover story; suggests Colman was being interviewed (which is later revealed to the readers).

In the previous chapters, one and two, Jackie Kay chooses to present the character of Mille through her most inner thoughts and feelings. However Kay chooses to reveal the character of Colman through an interview, with the character of Sophie Stones, which is contradictory to the other chapters whereby Kay chooses to present Colman in third person ( for example in the chapter titled ‘sex’). One reason for Kay presenting the character of Colman in this format may be to create ambiguity and for the readers to question all that was being said by Colman in the interview.

When Colman is recalling memories of his father Joss Moody, in the beginning of chapter three, it is clear that the death of his father had a detrimental effect on Colman mentally. This is shown in the quotation ‘’only when I became Colman Moody did everything start to become a total fucking drag’’. The quotation suggests that Colman was used to being known as Joss moody’s son. The words ‘Fucking drag’ highlights the anguish at perhaps himself as he may of felt he was unable to identify with himself as an individual since the death of his father. Rather he prefers to be referred to as Joss Moody’s son.

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This correlates with the quote ‘it’s a tall order when someone expects you to be somebody just because your father was somebody’. This quotation conveys the depth of Colman’s struggle to break free of his emotional bond and the pressure of having to live up to his father’s legacy. Moreover it conveys how Colman wanted to be like his father so much that he felt worthless being himself. This is supported in the quote ‘‘the children of famous people aren’t allowed to be ordinary fuckwits like me’. Most definitely is Colman’s anger revealed when his father is found out to have a woman’s body?

The quote ‘’ he conned his own son’’ transmits that Colman felt betrayed by his father. An important question to ask ourselves is ‘’did Colman feel betrayed because his father never told him he was a woman or did Colman feel betrayed and angry at his father because he wanted him to be an actual male? ’’ Jackie Kay doesn’t give a most definite answer to this; instead she invites the readers to create their own decisions and opinions. This creates a lasting ambiguity about the character of Colman as all is not revealed to the readers.

As the readers delve deeper into the novel, it is clear to see that Colman Moody felt as if he never had his own independence. This is shown in the quotation ‘’ a lot of my childhood was spent on the road. Touring. Place to fucking place’’ this implies that Colman felt as if he was living the life of his father and that he was unable to become an individual or have a childhood because he was doing everything his father was doing. Another interpretation of this could be that Colman was somehow blaming his father for the reason why he’s unable to relate to himself as ‘Colman Moody’ when he’s used to being his father’s ‘carbon copy’.

It seems as if Colman hid his deep love and emotional bond with his father, perhaps he wanted to seem masculine and independent whereby that was far from how he really felt. He felts like he couldn’t be himself because he wanted acceptance and approval by his father, almost as if he wanted to mirror the legacy of him. This is supported in the quotation ‘’ pretended I didn’t give a flying fuck of what my father thought of me but I did ... I fucking worshipped him’’. The word ‘worshipped’ creates the idea that Colman idolises his father and because of his father’s death, he feels like a huge part of his identity is gone.

Since he found out that his father was a woman, it’s as if Colman questions whether he loved his father for who he really was or whether he was admiring the mask that his father put on. This most definitely impacted on how Colman viewed himself. The use of short sentences in the novel emphasises the power of a word and indicates a thought, the use of short sentences conveys how Colman’s thoughts were not running smoothly and he was struggling to understand himself. Throughout the novel Kay does not indicate which character is talking straight away.

Rather Kay keeps the novel flowing with different characters voices and thoughts interrupting another. The idea that the novel is not structured to a specific format showcases the fragmentation of the character of Colman’s identity. ‘Trumpet’ reveals that Colman felt he had become the person he was because of his father. All of the values of a man Joss Moody taught him had to some extent shaped how he was, therefore when the intricate lie of his father was revealed it clearly impacted him psychologically.

Who was his father? Furthermore, his lack of independence from his father’s grip lead to him becoming unstable, vulnerable and alone. Who was Colman Moody? Kay invites the readers to understand the depth of the attachment Colman had to the man he thought his father was. When his father died, it was almost as if Colman Moody has ceased to have even existed. Colman’s most biggest struggle was to break free from under his father’s wings and to accept who his father was and to accept that his own story will never be clear.

Explore the way Kay presents Colman and his struggle for identity essay

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