Study Guide

Hard Love Identity

By Ellen Wittlinger

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When Marisol tells the entire world that she's a "Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Cambridge, Massachusetts, rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin looking for love" (1.52), we can't imagine she's searching for her identity. In fact, she seems like she's got herself figured out. Yet, she soon learns that she can't just string a bunch of adjectives together to make up an identity—the truth is, she's looking for who she really is just as much as John is in Hard Love. No wonder they become such fast friends.

Questions About Identity

  1. Why does Marisol need to get away to figure out who she is? What distracts her at home? 
  2. Who has the clearest sense of who they are in the book? Is there a difference between how people see themselves and how they are seen by others? 
  3. Why doesn't John care who he is? When Marisol tells him he should figure it out, what do you think his response is? 
  4. Does John have a clear idea of who he is at the end of the novel? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Marisol might claim she doesn't know who she is, but she already knows her identity at the beginning of the novel, she just doesn't want to face it yet.

John cares more about figuring out who other people are than sorting out his own identity because he thinks no one cares about him.

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