“Ink” (p.68-111)

“Like, people inside are pretty much the same people outside. We’ve got somewhere around 1,000 inks of all kinds here now and if you walk into the lunchroom you’ll see them sitting into ethnic groupings. And within each group, they sit pretty much by color of tat. Unspoken hierarchy, a lot like high school. The only ones who seem to cross the boundaries are kids too little to recognize the distinctions other than size” (p.74)

In this passage, Abbie is observing the lunchroom of the inkatorium after a shipment of new inks came in. She watches the inks and takes note of how they organize themselves by ethnic groups and within their groups, by the color of their tattoos. The inks are all bound together by their situation, the way they are seen and treated by the society they live in. I find the organization among the inks to be interesting because they seems to have an “unspoken hierarchy” that is evident despite the fact that they are victims to another ranking system. It seems strange to me because the thing that bonds them together, their tattoos, also separates them from each other. However, this is not the case for children. In the eyes of the kids there are no differences between the people among them except for the size of a person. The passage illustrates how the children know little about the reason for the organization or the reason as to why they are in the inkatorium in the first place. This in itself shows that the people are raised into the hierarchical system not born with it ingrained in them, meaning that as the children grow up they will learn their place in society and begin to organize themselves to fit the system. This learned behavior goes beyond the minds of the inks to even those of ordinary American citizens. Abbie makes reference to the “unspoken hierarchy” of the lunchroom to her experience in high school. The reference points to how even within the social structure of the American citizens there is a hierarchical system that determines how people treat one another. One example being when Rose, a fellow classmate, says ‘I don’t know why you hang with trailer trash, John’ (p.68). Here, Abbie is ranked to be of a lower class to that of Rose and John because she is not as well off as they are, even though all are the same race and citizens. The passage illustrates that no matter the situation, the idea of superiority, rank, and classification seems to be the main focal point that the author writes about and questions.

-Serina Thomas


13 thoughts on ““Ink” (p.68-111)

  1. I really like how you bring up the parallels between the inks being segregated from society and how they segregate themselves within the inkatorium. It’s certainly ironic how the inks themselves form their own cliques that are impenetrable. It is interesting, but also very realistic of people in a societal state such as this.


  2. I also found this quote to be really interesting when I read this section. I agree with your point about the hierarchy they create among themselves is strange because of the other hierarchy that they are forced to live by. I’m guessing that they don’t do this intentionally and that it is kind of just ingrained in the way they live. Kind of like they don’t know how else to act in society. It’s sad to think that the children, who are still naive, will have to grow up to learn where they belong in society, just as all the adult inks had to.

    -Kaitlyn Klepper


  3. This “unspoken hierarchy” did not really surprise me. In fact it reminded of the gangs and Peñas. Similarly segregated by particular country of origin. Despite the fact they were all facing the same prejudice and persecution, they perhaps found some sense of comfort and home among those from their same native lands. Even the separation by tattoo color wasn’t surprising. The green and black tattoo bearers likely resent the blue for the slight lenience their citizenship status allows them (how Mira’s tattoo helped her not be dumped across the border but did not prevent her from being kidnapped in the first place)


  4. I think this is a great quote that gives a big idea of what Ink is all about. Separating the Inks into different groups is a lot like high school because there are different types of people that hang out together, stereotypes. Not only do the Inks differ from the rest of society, but they differ from one another as well. Based on the color of their tattoos they are put into groups, like a caste system among one another. I just think it’s unnecessary for Inks in general to be segregated, especially between each other.


  5. I love the typical High School drama perspective Abbie applies to the ink situation in her stories. Because, it represents the ridiculous nature of segregation and the extreme measures gone to in the story, which represent some ridiculous measures done in real life. Her young eyes can better understand the hypocrisy of the system than the adult narrators who are too serious to see just how absurd it has always been. She is an essential point of view through her ignorance and wisdom.


  6. I really like the parallels between reality and the story that you brought up. The fact that social hierarchy and bigotry are not a concepts people have from birth, but ideas that we develop as we become more integrated into society, I feel is a major point of the story that is consistently touched upon.

    -Justin Wright


  7. This quote summarizes the differentiation of inks! I found it very interesting that what brought them together actually separated them. But are they actually separated? We know the kids are in due part to the hierarchical system, but as adults there is little to no distinction. All children will find where they belong in a the society!


  8. I really like that passage you decided to expand on, the hierarchy that is revealed within the novel is parallel to the world we somewhat live in now. On Monday we had a discussion on how the author in a sense used Mexicans / Spanish as her inspiration for how she described inks which made it feel more relatable, in the sense of it being parallel. I feel as this is another example of her merging the two worlds together again, where there are similarities. In today’s society there are divisions within cultures ranging from being wealthy to even in the black community having the light skin vs dark skin issues. By the author having this unspoken hierarchy among an already diverse group it creates tension when in reality there should be unity as a whole. It makes the audience ponder the idea of what if all the inks united together instead of tear themselves apart by dividing themselves into “groups” I also hope it makes the audience think about society today and where there are parallel similarities.
    -Nicole Crippen


  9. I too found this quote interesting while reading these pages. It brought me back to my high school days, back when people openly and freely segregated themselves into ground of their choosing. I want to mention how important the part about only kids not known the difference between tat except for in size. That is an important quote because it shows off the innocence of the children, and only because of their innocence its acceptable for them to jump from group to group. Showing that the ones with the problems of segregation are also the people who can speak up against it.


  10. The hierarchy that is presented in this passage seems to me as if it is a form of internalized classism, as the inks grow up in their societies with the hierarchy constantly surrounding them, it is hard not to fall subject to the organization that they seem to sort themselves into. To an outsider at first glance it could be hard to notice the segregation among the inks, but as the author delves deeper into the passage and explains the hierarchy, it reminds me of the way our own country has a hierarchy. The wealthy are normally the ones with power and the poor are looked down upon, but that is not something that we are born with. As we grow up we realize that there are different classes, such as wealthy, middle class, lower middle class, poor, etc. and we internalize this system and sort ourselves into wherever we feel like we deserve to be. However, in reality we are all human, our insides are all the same, but for some reason we are all sorted and segregated to this day.


  11. I noticed this passage, in particular, myself when reading. I think the parallel between the hierarchies both inside and outside the inkatorium are important to note. But I don’t know if the unspoken hierarchy the inks put themselves into based on tattoo color is intentional or simply because that is what has been ingrained in them to do outside the inkatorium walls. Regardless, I think it shows how systematic the whole situation has become. There is no emotion involved, and workers at the inkatorium are discouraged from sympathizing with those they imprison. Even the inks themselves have become desensitized to it and may even feed into it themselves unintentionally.


  12. The idea of everyone splitting into different groups based on a hierarchy is very similar to many other examples in society. From high school, to prisons, to even the real world, everyone does their best to stick with those that they know best. We have a tendency to group ourselves for our own survival. In high schools we have cliques, in prisons we have gangs, and in the real world, we have different social economic classes. In high schools we may group each other by the way we dress, in prisons, by our ethnic race, and in the real world, by what we own. The ink talked about in this book is just a quick way for everyone to organize into groups. However, it is all the same. We still look to fall into groups in one way or another.


  13. This was a very interesting point. The fact that this story is focused on the division and segregation of immigrants from nonimmigrants it’s interesting to see how even the inks divide into “cliques” based on their status.It really speaks to the human inclination to divide into social groups and look for people similar to yourself. However this passage brings the reader back to reality. The book is so deeply about the segregation of inks and ‘Americans’, that even the reader begins to think of inks as one entity. It’s easy to forget that they are all individual people, from different social classes, different racial backgrounds, different families. But in this passage, the author shows the readers here that inks still associate themselves with different groups. They aren’t just one group, they are small subgroups who relate to different inks and different people in different ways.


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