Identity is the main theme in the short story “Fatima, the Biloquist: A transformation Story” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. The theme is illustrated by Fatima’s conflicting identities, and her desire to explore who she really is.

Fatima is an African-American girl who lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood and goes to Westwood, which is a private school. She is “one of two black girls” in school and does not have a lot of contact with other African Americans until she meets Violet.

Fatima’s lack of a clear racial identity can be seen in the way she describes herself as a “colorless gas”. There are many hints in the text that this makes her unhappy. She often “moped” and “sulked” and rarely laughs. This clearly affects her self-confidence, which she only gains when she meets Violet. 

Violet’s attempts at transforming Fatima and introducing her to African-American culture are, at first, successful. However, it should be noted that Fatima embraces this identity only when she is with Violet. At school, or with people like Rolf, she is careful to avoid talking like she does with Violet or her parents. This is symbolized by her explanation of her two lips, which are of different colors:


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