Nicole’s Response to Pages 149-240 of “Fledgling”

“Who am I?”

He surprised me. “Dirty little nigger bitch,” he said reflectively. “Goddamn mongrel cub.” Then he gasped and clutched his head between his hands. After a moment, he put his head down on the table and groaned.

It was clear that he was in pain. His face had suddenly gone a deep red. “Didn’t mean to say that,” he whispered. “Didn’t mean to call you that.” He looked at me. “Sorry. Didn’t mean it.”

“They call me those things, don’t they?”

He nodded.

“Because I’m dark-skinned?”

“And human,” he said. “Ina mixed with some human or maybe human mixed with a little Ina. That’s not supposed to happen. Not ever. Couldn’t let you and you…your kind…your family…breed” (Butler 173).

This passage is eye-opening since it implicitly highlights the potential motives as to why Shori and her Ina families have been ruthlessly targeted. During his interrogation with Shori after his attack at the Gordon’s community, raider Victor Colon expresses his seemingly evident distaste of the vampire and the dangers she possesses. The diction that Butler implements in Colon’s dialogue is representative of the racism that Shori has to unfortunately face throughout her life. While Victor does not explicitly state this, the audience can infer from the racial slurs that Victor, along with his sidekicks and other enemies, came to kill Shori due to her race. However, his feelings of sorrow towards Shori and the horrifying damage has committed are reflected in his constant negations. Victor states how he “Didn’t mean that” three times in a row. The author employs this repetition in order to underscore Colon’s insistence that he is truly sorry for what he had said. When he “gasped and clutched his head between his hands,” it can be assumed that Victor is just following the views of his “bosses” and does not actually despise Shori. The pain and confusion that are depicted in this passage are the result of being controlled by the masterminds who forced him to commit the unthinkable. The final statement that Victor makes in this excerpt is: “Couldn’t let you and you…your kind…your family…breed” (Butler 173). What is interesting to note here is the syntax. Butler intentionally inputs ellipses to illustrate the difficulty of Colon describing Shori’s species, since she is biologically complex with both Ina/human DNA. The fact that Victor could not allow the breeding to occur might imply that Shori’s enemies do not like the success of genetic engineering that Shori’s family has experienced or maybe do not like the experiment altogether. This is a second possible motive as to why Victor and his sidekicks were ordered to murder the protagonist, and is one that Wright himself had suggested earlier to Daniel Gordon upon meeting him. Lastly, this excerpt hints at one of the most significant themes of the novel: racism. Racism is one recurring element that has appeared in other literary works read in  our “21st Century Expression” class.In the dystopian novel Ink, for example, Latinos faced discrimination and were forced to adorn tattoos representing their level of citizenship. Shori encounters similar discrimination when Victor calls her a “litte nigger” and “mongrel cub” after she asks him who she is. This prejudice, although presented in a science fiction context, is a visible and prevalent issue in the audience’s present society. The author, being African American herself, incorporates racism throughout the book to address this ongoing bigotry that blacks still face today.

Nicole Schmalz

Attached is a relevant article that discusses how racism in the 21st century is a whole different battle than one conquered in the past and that it needs new strategies in order to combat or lessen the severity of.

http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/05/we_need_to_fight_21st_century_racism.3.html

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6 thoughts on “Nicole’s Response to Pages 149-240 of “Fledgling”

  1. Racism has been a repetitive topic throughout this course so far. I think it’s important to focus on the fact that after he called her such cruel and unacceptable names, he regretted it. His face turned red and he put his head down, this shows that he was immediately embarrassed for his actions. He also told her he didn’t mean it not only once, but three times. Obviously racism is implied because she is African American, but also because she is part human, part Ina.

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  2. I like how you brought up that racism is something often discussed in the class. As unfortunate as it is, racism has been a constant force throughout history, so it seems odd that many science fiction authors don’t openly discuss it very often in their stories. Shori’s skin color wasn’t something that was talked about with a negative connotation until right around this point in the book and I think that might relate to society’s unwillingness to discuss that racism is still something we have to deal with, but it could also be reflective of how part of society today hasn’t realized how big of a problem racism still is and choose not to discuss it because of unwillingness but because of ignorance to the issue.

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  3. I was wondering when racism is going to play a role in the story. Considering that the author is Octavia butler, I was sort of expecting this to be a main theme. There’s something fitting about the raider’s name being Victor Colon. His racism is as foul as the organ it’s named after. Colon’s dislike of Shori being dark-skinned and human sort of reminds me of the Loving v. Virginia case. One of the judges stated that God placed different colored people on different continents to prevent interbreeding. I find the concept of Ina mixed with human DNA not much different from a white man marrying a black woman, as was the case in Loving.

    Jiapeng Zhao

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  4. Racism is such a real thing in our society, not as evident today as it was before but its still around. I found myself expecting for the racism in this too book to come out while reading. When i realized that i began to think how sad that really is. Even in science fiction books, i as a part of this society was looking for the racism, its so common that we have become use to it, and that really disgusts me. I also would like to say that I like the comparison used in Jiapeng Zhao’s comment to this blog, about the ovine. V. Virginia case. I think that is a perfect example/analogy for what is happening in the story.

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  5. This is an interesting part of the novel. Shori’s differences is really starting to show. She is being called out for being of another race. In fact, not only is she called out for being of another race, but she is called out for being a mixed breed Ina as well. This is only of the important themes that Butler tries to convey. The idea of racism, even though it is only conveyed through a vampire story.

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  6. I think this is where the story starts the progression towards a more of a “warning” for modern society. It draws a parallel to the way that racism could be headed in our country/ already has and could still be occurring. Not only is the community in this story seperated by their race, but also by their “breed”. Also, it shows how programmed this segregation is into the heads of the people who are “normal”, no matter how much Victor didn’t want to say these things to Shori, it almost fell out of his mouth and he had to apologize after because he ‘didn’t mean it’

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