“Double Identity”, a Novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix Rhetorical Analysis

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A mystery that leaves the reader with more questions the deeper they enter the text, Double Identity, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, consist of many literary devices that make the book irresistible to read. For example: the narration of the book is in first person point of view by Bethany Cole, the main character, or protagonist of the novel. This helps the reader to follow along as Bethany tries to uncover who, or what she really is. Another example is how foreshadowing is used in the novel. It not only creates an insight, but it also forms suspense to all of the possible answers to unanswered questions.

The conflict of the novel is character versus self, this is yet another example of a literary device used in the novel Double Identity. The conflict contributes to the overall theme of the book in which Bethany learns who she truly is and accepts herself on what she’s learned. Haddix is a master at combining a dazzlingly original concept with suspenseful writing, the literary devices that have been stated are only a small portion of how Haddix creates such a thrilling piece of work through her novel Double Identity.

Regarding the narration of the novel, Haddix uses the first person point of view to tell the story. The protagonist, 12-year old Bethany Cole, is the narrator of the novel; this helps the reader to sense Bethany’s emotions and understand her feelings as she uncovers the mysterious circumstances surrounding her birth. When reading the novel, led by Bethany’s narration, it is found that Bethany was removed from her home by her parents in the middle of the night and was then taken to her aunt Myrlie’s house, hours away. Bethany was left with her aunt Myrlie, an aunt that Bethany had not known existed, nor did she know of any other relative’s existence besides her parents. While there, Bethany had dealt with a series of suspicious events and complicated conversations.

This had led to Bethany’s realization that she is a clone of her newly known sister Elizabeth, who had passed away in a tragic accident years before. Throughout the story, Bethany deals with compelling ethical issues firsthand, such as her questioning her existence as she states: “I’m a real person, not just some- some Xerox of Elizabeth. I’m Bethany! Bethany Cole!” (Haddix, 129) After this statement, Bethany then remembers that her father had forged various birth certificates for her without her knowledge of him doing so. Her father, Walter Cole, was previously known as “Walter Krull”; Walter and Bethany’s mother, Hillary, had other last names besides “Krull” that Bethany became knowledgeable of a few days after her father and mother’s sudden departure.

Bethany came into this knowledge when Myrlie had received a package in the mail from Bethany’s father. The package contained various items, some of which happened to be birth certificates with “Bethany” as the first name on all of them. The birth certificates were the same, except with different last names and different places of birth. This concludes to her following question: “How real can I be if I’m not even sure of my last name?”(Haddix, 129) Bethany is not only confused, but also troubled on the topic of her own self being. This psychological thriller with science-fiction undertones is compelling and thought-provoking. The first person voice helps readers to sympathize and connect with Bethany right from the start. The author’s point of view, as well, keeps readers glued to the book until the final reveal where all questions are answered.

Foreshadowing occurs throughout the novel due to assumptions that are made by various characters. Margaret Peterson Haddix has a great style of writing. She is very descriptive and is a thriller writer, especially with her uses of foreshadowing. When Bethany searched through the box that her father had mailed to Myrlie’s house – after he abandoned her there – she came across a note that her father had written. Her father wrote: “We made a deal with the devil and now the devil is demanding his due, no hope now he is going to catch us, can’t lead him back to you and Bethany, can’t even call, have to protect Bethany.”(Haddix, 158)

Later on in the book, it is found out that Walter Krull (Bethany’s father) had made a deal with a very successful man (who was later sent to jail for money embezzlement, but eventually let out). The deal was for Krull to make a clone of this successful man, but Krull had lost his first-born daughter Elizabeth at the time due to a tragic accident. His misery persuaded him to create a copy of her, a clone. This had led to Bethany being made in a test tube from Elizabeth’s chromosomes and DNA strands. The very successful man, Dalton Van Dyne (the antagonist of the novel), had been arrested just after Krull had completed cloning Elizabeth, which had taken several months. Krull had planned to make a clone of Dyne, but it was too late.

While in jail, Dyne had sent large sums of money to Krull for him to take care of his clone – which did not even exist. This concludes to why Walter Krull had changed his last name numerous times; it was because of his fear of Dyne finding out the truth and hunting him down. Fast-forwarding in time to Dalton Van Dyne getting out of jail, Dyne is now expecting his “clone” from Walter. Eventually, in the novel, Krull’s and Dyne’s paths intersect. Therefore, Walter Krull’s note was an element of foreshadowing, for Krull knew that Dyne was seeking him. The quote of Krull’s note both shows the author’s ability to foreshadow and create suspenseful moments, which is a factor of her great style of writing.

The theme of Double Identity is both beautiful and touching. The theme is developed with the conflict of the novel; the conflict being character versus self. Bethany went through a lot of mysterious events that had led her to becoming aware of how she was actually made; this was the process of her being cloned. Bethany faced a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty upon herself when she had found out of her being a clone of her deceased sister Elizabeth. She felt as if she was “just a copy of Elizabeth.”(Haddix, 129) Upon scientific standards, this is valid, but she is her own self and differs from Elizabeth in various ways. Bethany eventually comes to terms with who she really is by stating: “No matter how I got here, I’m alive.” (Haddix, 216)

She may be a clone, but she isn’t exactly like her deceased sister. Bethany, for example, is a competitive swimmer. Yet, Elizabeth would never set as much of a toe into a pool. Instead of swimming, Elizabeth became a wonderful gymnast. Bethany had never attempted gymnastics in her life. More soft-spoken and less energetic, Bethany is different in various ways. Through the conflict of the novel and it relating to the theme, Margaret Peterson Haddix makes it clear that no one is exactly the same; everyone is special in their own way.

Double Identity, a novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix, explores issues of identity, self-worth, and especially how new reproductive/scientific technologies might impact the people created by their use. The narration of the novel, the use of foreshadowing, and the conflict of the novel being character versus self are all contributing components of how the theme comes together. The theme is that the truth will set you free and that everyone should love themselves for who they are. Haddix reveals this to the reader through the use of literary devices and her unique style of writing.


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“Double Identity”, a Novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix Rhetorical Analysis. (2021, Jul 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/double-identity-a-novel-by-margaret-peterson-haddix/

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