Trainspotting


An outcast, a loner, a reject, these are several names given to individuals who are socially unaccepted. An outcast is a person who differs from others in a way that is denounced by society. As a result they are cast aside or socially rejected. In order to be tolerated in society these individuals are often forced to put up a front or wear a fake persona. Their attempts to mask their true personalities bring on permanent changes to their true selves. In literature and in society, what are the effects of fake personae being forced upon societal outcasts?


In the novel Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh introduces several societal issues dealing with social ranking. His main character, Mark Renton, bears many of the characteristics of a social outcast. Unable to conform to the predisposed ideals and demands that society had created, Mark is forced to wear a fake personae in order to find his place in society and hide his feelings of isolation. However, this forced personae inflicts many problems on Mark. Although personae are often considered to be a natural element in life, it inflicts negative effects on the psychological, physical, and emotional aspects of the victim.


The effects of unrealistic personae and masked identities can go as far as to cause psychological troubles. Some psychologist’ s believe that fake personae are the cause of many cases of psychological instability. However, psychotherapist Paul Fedorowicz claims that it is the lack of these personality masks and not their presence that lead to psychological issues and antisocial behavior. Mark Renton did not posses a wide variety of false personae when he was young; as he matured, he was faced with multiple societal disappointments and he began to see the class distinctions present in his society. He realized he had to put on a mask in order to fit in. He had to mask his innocence and intelligence and wear a false personality. In the novel, Mark adopts the personality of an ambitionless druggy so that he can fit into his lower class environment. However, he becomes so absorbed in this fake personality that he begins to forget who he truly is. He puts up a front before he can really develop into his own person. This causes him to become unsure of his identity and reinforces his feelings of isolation and social rejection. Though it is the lack of predisposed personality masks that cause Mark problems with adapting, it is the mask he puts on that causes him further problems with drug abuse and mistaken identity. On the other hand, in the novel Assumed Identity by David Morell, the main character Brendan Buchanan must put on several different personae in order to portray certain people. He does this because it is his job as an undercover army special operations agent. Buchanan takes on more than 200 assumed identities. From identity to identity he assumes the likes and dislikes of these people. He takes on their hobbies and their characteristics. Buchanan gets so wrapped up in these personalities that he begins to forget who he is and what he likes and dislikes. This mental confusion was brought about by an overabundance of fake personality masks as opposed to a lack of them. The novel Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum bears some resemblance to Assumed Identity (the outcome of the two novels being the lost identities of the main characters). However, in Bourne Identity, the motive of Jason Bourne’s lost identity has nothing to do with wearing too many personae but with a personality disorder otherwise known as amnesia.


"I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left‑handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?"(Ludlum)


Jason Bourne is placed in a very frustrating position when he wakes up one day unsure of his own identity. His amnesia furthers his social isolation