Essay Sample on Psychoanalytic Theory in "Children of the Sea"

Published: 2022-11-04
Essay Sample on Psychoanalytic Theory in "Children of the Sea"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology American literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 940 words
8 min read

By definition, psychoanalysis is a kind of therapy whose main aim is to assist individuals to release repressed and held-up memories and emotion which may eventually lead to healing from the emotions. Alternatively, it is also true to say that psychoanalysis helps bring memories ideas and emotions from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind. Consequently, this can be achieved by talking to other people about the things that seemingly led them to those situations. According to Dr. Sigmund Freud, the founder of the theory, the psychoanalytic theory is made up of various concepts. First up is the psychosexual theory. Here, he mentions that children possess five main stages of growth each about a different kind of pleasure. The five main stages are oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital. As seen in the passage; "When I got on board, I thought I could still smell the semen and the innocence lost at those sheets." (Edwidge 3). For one to fully develop into adulthood, he/she would have to pass through all the five stages. The second concept as outlined by Freud is the interpretation of dreams. Freud believed in it as he possessed much trust in the significance of dreams citing that their interpretation would provide loads of information regarding the unconscious mind. Further, he argued that there exists a difference between the actual dream and the true meaning of the dream.

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Children of the Sea" by Edwidge Dantica begins by an unknown man writing a letter to his absent lover. He is in a boat that is not large enough to accommodate all the 36 people in it, and the conditions are unbearable. He reminisces on his childhood memories and recalls how the white sheets used as sail remind him of the innocence of this lover who refused to sleep with him. He tells her he is fine with a decision as his main aim was to be close to her. He is sad, however, that his lover will be sold off to another person by his father. He further narrates of how the president fled and how the military has taken over. No one is safe, and the streets are unpassable. No one dares leave the house.

Children of the sea, therefore, can be summed up using several elements of the psychoanalytic theory which help the reader understand better the contents of the writings. The main elements include; the Id, the ego and the superego. This document thus seeks to employ the three elements to describe some of the scenes in the passages.

First and foremost is the Id. This operates majorly on desires and instinctual drives that are basic. According to Freud, the Id is made up of two main components that is; Thanatos; this is the instinct of death which brings about violent and aggressive behavior. As seen from the text, "Do you think the boy is dead?" (Edwidge 5). This shows them trying to use their instincts to deduce whether or not the boy is dead. The second main component of Id is Eros. This is the instinct to survive and drives people to participate in life-sustaining activities. As seen from the text, the captain tries everything he can to fix up the hole that is on the boat that could make them capsize if not taken care of. He finds some tar and uses it to cover the hole as he has no alternative. It holds for a while.

The second element is the ego and acts as a check or a conduit for the Id. It works and strives to meet the needs of the Id in a socially appropriate manner. Ideally, it begins developing at infancy and is the closest to reality. In this text, since the people on the boat have more or less nothing to do, they turn to tell stories to keep their minds off the brutality and painful memories of where they came from. "We spent most of yesterday telling stories." (Edwidge 14). This is the only way they can maintain their sanity and remain quite cheerful. It is not the ultimate mode of warding off the bad memories, but to say the least, it keeps them focused on other things for a while.

The final element of the psychoanalytic theory is the superego. This acts as the part of the mind where higher principals and morality resides. This part encourages people to always act in morally and socially acceptable ways. This can be seen in the text when the militias invade the narrator's house, grab the woman and begin questioning her in a loud and oppressive manner. The rest of the occupants of this house are outside silently watching what is happening to one of them. The superego can be manifested when the narrator's mother attempts to walk into the house to save the woman from being killed. It is a sign of sympathy and willingness to help. She is however stopped by her husband saying that she will not ruin their plans to escape just by going to help the dying woman. By illustration, she says "you cannot let them kill somebody because you are afraid." (Edwidge 16).

In conclusion, therefore, the story of the Children of the Sea depicts a lot of emotions for the reader and in most cases sad and painful emotions. The reader cannot help but pity the survivors who try all they can to stay alive. As mentioned in this document, there exist three behavioral elements namely the Id, the ego and the Superego that have been widely discussed while drawing illustrations from the text.

Work Cited

Danticat, Edwidge. "Children of the Sea." Krik Krak (1996): 1-29.

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Essay Sample on Psychoanalytic Theory in "Children of the Sea". (2022, Nov 04). Retrieved from

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