“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.