“Amnesia as a tool to emphasize identity in S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep”

Özsevgeç Y., Özsevgeç N.

9th International Nalans Conference , Trabzon, Turkey, 3 - 05 October 2023, pp.1

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Trabzon
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.1
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


Amnesia as a tool to emphasize identity in S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep


Memory has always played a significant part in fiction. It is primarily interrelated with identity because present identity is built with past memories. In literature, most texts focus on how characters remember their past and how memories initiate their building of identity. At the same time, a great number of texts are the representations of individual memory. In some stories, memories include traumas that make people unhappy or depressed, and people try to forget and get rid of their memories. On the other hand, in some stories people who suffer from amnesia struggle to remember their memories to find their own identity. Since the relationship between memory and identity is still unclear, it has become a mysterious and intriguing theme, especially for fiction. While memories construct the identity, memory loss causes a new identity, new life, or multiple personality and darkness. Therefore, for fiction writers, amnesia is a tool to emphasize the relationship between identity and memory. S.J. Watson, an international bestseller writer of Before I Go to Sleep (2011), includes amnesia in his book and tries to show how identity is constructed with or without memory.  The readers see both a woman without any memory and not sure about her identity, and a woman who gains her memories back. So, this study will focus on the protagonist, Christine, who wakes up every morning as a new person and will seek an answer to the question of whether identity can be constructed without memory.

Keywords: Memory, identity, amnesia, S. J. Watson