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1.Think about your own “voice.”  Do you speak with a single voice?  Multiple voices?
2.Do you use different voices in different settings and with different people?
3.Is the voice you speak with now the same voice you spoke with as a child?
Breaking Down the Text
1.Smith describes her childhood as “the story of this and that combined, of the synthesis of disparate things” (1).  What does she mean by this, and how does it connect to Adichie’s idea of a single story?
2.Why does Smith regret that her “double voice” has left her, and she now speaks in a single voice (1)?
3.Why, according to Smith, do some people view changing one’s voice to be duplicitous and even tragic?
4.Smith spends a good deal of time talking about Shaw’s Pygmalion and the character Eliza Doolittle.  For Smith, what lesson(s) does this text have to teach us?
5.Smith admires that Obama “doesn’t just speak for his people.  He can speak them” (3).  Explain what she means by this and why it’s significant.
6.What is Dream City, and why does Smith claim that she and Obama were born there?
7.Smith tells us that it takes effort to “live variously” (4).  What does it mean to live variously, and why should we strive to do so?

The Role of Voices in Shaping Identity

Pre-writing

When I look at my own voice, I speak within multiple voices. For example, when I am at home with my parents, I speak our native tongue, which is Chinese. However, when I am at college, I converse in English and my accent changes when I speak to my American friends. The voice I speak in is different from the voice I spoke as a child. Thus, over the years, I have developed different voices to be sued and spoke in different situations.

1. Smith describes her childhood as “the story of this and that combined, of the synthesis of disparate things” (1).  What does she mean by this, and how does it connect to Adichie’s idea of a single story?

  Smith means that her voice is the net result of different experiences and situations.  Her statement reflects upon the role of languages and stereotypes in the dominant culture. For example, when she was in Willesden, her way and accent of speaking English were different. However, when she moved to Cambridge, she thought that she would be adding new knowledge to what she already had (Smith). However, at Cambridge, she had to develop an entirely new voice, and she felt that now she had two voices. Smith’s experience connects to Adichie’s idea of a single story as just like languages, people have a specific stereotypical image of countries. One is judged based on where they come from and how they speak.

2. Why does Smith regret that her “double voice” has left her, and she now speaks in a single voice (1)?

Smith regrets that her “double voice” has left her as she feels that losing her older accent or developing a new one makes one lose their originality. Cambridge, being univocal, everyone is supposed to speak in a certain way or pronounce the words in the right manner. However, Smith feels that her voice is her persona. Using different versions of the same voice art different occasions means that one has lost touch with their very souls and living in duplicity.

3. Why, according to Smith, do some people view changing one’s voice to be duplicitous and even tragic?

For Smith, it is tragic to adjust ones’ voice to duplicitous and tragic, as by doing so, they move away from their original self and in the process lose their originality. One is forever in limbo when deciding for the right voice, and Smith explains her middling dilemma by the puzzling dictum "To thine own self be true" (Smith). Duplications of voices are indeed tragic as one is never able to find the right voice that suits every dimension of the society.

4. Smith spends a good deal of time talking about Shaw’s Pygmalion and the character Eliza Doolittle.  For Smith, what lesson(s) does this text have to teach us?

Smith discusses Eliza Doolittle, who is the character in the famous play called Pygmalion in her article. She looks at Eliza’s voice to be tragically double-voiced and how she loses her real voice by changing her voice. For Smith, Eliza lies in an awkward and in-between space, where she has forgotten her own language and cannot speak like others around her.

5. Smith admires that Obama “doesn’t just speak for his people.  He can speak them” (3).  Explain what she means by this and why it’s significant.

When Smith writes that Obama does not just speak for his people but can speak them, she makes a significant statement. She conveys that Obama has this special gift of using the power of his voice to relate and talk to many people. It is not just important to talk for people but to speak them. For Smith, Obama is fascinating as he can change his voice and is capable of reaching people from within. It shows that Obama may be a many-voiced man, but his voice speaks with a sincere heart and carries a genuineness (Smith).
6. What is Dream City, and why does Smith claim that she and Obama were born there?

According to Smith, a Dream City is a place of many voices and where you grow up with a personal multiplicity. The multiplicity grows within you, and everything is various and doubled in the Dream City (Smith). Thus, one has no choice to move from zone to another to speak in different tongues and voices. She claims that she and Obama were born there as they, like many others have messy histories, complicated backstories with multiple narratives. One could be from any country in the collective human messiness and could talk like a senator or a street hustler. Dream City is no longer strange as, most look for synthesis in their contrasting voices, but it has to be a continual effort.

7. Smith tells us that it takes effort to “live variously” (4).  What does it mean to live variously, and why should we strive to do so?

When Smiths says that it takes an effort to “live variously,” she means that it is not a choice we get when we are born, but is forced on us as we grow older and move to different spaces. In order to live variously, one needs to make a regular effort. Flexibility is an important choice that one needs to make for lifelong vocal flexibility. Different voices between and within cultures point to the extreme possibility of culture and cultural sensibilities. One should strive to live variously and be proud of their own voice as well as another voice, as nothing is more important than human harmony.

Smith, Zadies. “Speaking in Tongues.” nybooks, 26 Febl. 2009, www.nybooks.com/articles/2009/02/26/speaking-in-tongues-2/. Accessed 9 Dec. 2018

Cite This Work

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My Assignment Help. (2021). Exploring The Multitude Of Voices: A Critical Analysis Of Zadie Smith's 'Speaking In Tongues'. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng101-english-composition/human-harmony.html.

"Exploring The Multitude Of Voices: A Critical Analysis Of Zadie Smith's 'Speaking In Tongues'." My Assignment Help, 2021, https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng101-english-composition/human-harmony.html.

My Assignment Help (2021) Exploring The Multitude Of Voices: A Critical Analysis Of Zadie Smith's 'Speaking In Tongues' [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng101-english-composition/human-harmony.html
[Accessed 18 July 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Exploring The Multitude Of Voices: A Critical Analysis Of Zadie Smith's 'Speaking In Tongues'' (My Assignment Help, 2021) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng101-english-composition/human-harmony.html> accessed 18 July 2024.

My Assignment Help. Exploring The Multitude Of Voices: A Critical Analysis Of Zadie Smith's 'Speaking In Tongues' [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2021 [cited 18 July 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng101-english-composition/human-harmony.html.

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