PRECIS: You can pick your friends but you can't pick your family

A great example of Bahbha’s mimicry of perfect mimicry as being unattainable is demonstrated by Sarah Jane from Imitation of Life. Her mother is black and her father is described as being almost white and Sarah Jane resembles her father in that she herself appears to be of Caucasian descent. During the entire movie, Sarah Jane pretends to be of the white world, trying to fit in with the kids in her class and date boys who are white. In spite of her efforts, it is almost always discovered that she is, in fact, black. Her imitation, or mimicry, of a white person is okay, but she cannot fully fit in because she has to hide her mother from everyone she hangs out. Her mimicry of the white world is one that can only ever be imperfect, no matter how well she can pretend. The black ancestry always ends up somehow intruding into her imaginary world where Sarah Jane imagines she has a white mother. Only when she disconnects herself completely from her mother can she live the life of a white person. However, the cost is that she has to give up her mother, the only family she has. The only way she can mimic the white world is if she gives up a large portion of who she is, the part which is centered on her love for her mother. The ultimate price is paid when her mother dies and Sarah Jane did not know until it was too late. Even when she felt as if she belonged in the white world, she was not fully in their world because white people are able to have their family with them too. Sarah Jane could never have everything she wanted because she was always trying to get rid of a part of herself; her imitation was always just that, an imitation.

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