“And your mothers? Your eldermothers?”
“I don’t know.”
“Your symbionts … how many symbionts did you have?”
“I’m told I had seven. I don’t remember any of them.”
“You recall no names? Nothing?”
“So you feel nothing for these people who were once closer to you than any others?” I looked downward.
“It’s as though they’re strangers. It’s terrible to me that I can’t recall them even enough to mourn them. I hate that they are dead— my families— but for me, it’s as though they never lived.”
Preluding this passage Shori finds herself in front of the Council of Judgement following the attacks on the Gordon family. She is questioned by many of the older Ina to gain insight on the attacks carried out. Shori is a key component of this deposition as the attacks were carried out during the day. Shori, being able to exist in sunlight, was able to defeat the attackers (human symbionts). It is revealed that the attacks were carried out because Shori is black and also part human. This passage is interesting because a major theme of the novel has been the quest for Shori to find her identity as an Ina by rediscovering her past. This interaction where she is questioned about her family seems to make her question her motives for finding justice for her slain family members, “its as though they never lived.” This sentiment makes it hard to believe there is passion behind her motives of justice.
In these final pages of the book the theme of identity truly comes to fruition following the death of one of Shori’s beloved symbionts, Theodora. Following the Council meeting Shori is informed that Theodora has died, more specifically she has been murdered.
“I found myself on my knees beside Theodora making sounds I could not recall ever having made before. She had come to me because she trusted me, loved me. She had been so happy when I asked her to join me here at Punta Nublada where she should have been safe. I had promised her a good life, had had every intention of keeping my promise. I would have kept her with me for the rest of her life. How could she be dead?”
The pain that Shori experiences when examining the lifeless body of Theodora is comparable to that of a mother grieving her child. True love. The feelings that Shori had expressed for her “actual” family have been dwarfed by the emotion displayed while grieving Theodora. Although Shori is young (by Ina standards) she has begun formulating a family of her own.
The novels ends touching on very centralized identity themes. For one, Shori also realizes that her past identity has become irrelevant to her life in the present and her current family is truly important, striving to define ones identity through family. As well as a more generalized sense of identity when identifying with a particular group (Inas). Shori was rejected and attacked by her own people (Katharine and the Silks), but has found refuge with her symbionts (humans) and future mates (Inas).