Analysis of a Quote in Orleans (p 160-234)

Fen: McDonald’s. I know they made food but what it like? I always been wanting to try a Big Mac.

Daniel: Do you have cows down there?

Fen: My tribe don’t, but I hear some tribes do.

Daniel: So you’ve never had beef?

Fen: Just seafood and wild pig. What beef taste like?

Daniel: I don’t know how to describe it. Different from pork, but more like pork than fish. But a Big Mac is kind of its own thing. Sweet and hot, with two patties of ground meat, two slices of cheese and this sauce that’s supposed to be special…” (Smith, 165-166)

In this passage, Fen and Daniel saw a spotter on a McDonalds.  Afterwards, Fen asks the man in the biohazard suit what the restaurant serves and what a Big Mac tastes like. This surprises David, for he asks if she has cows. Fen replies by saying no, but other tribes do. She asks David what beef tastes like but the latter is unable to describe the taste.

Fen knows that McDonald’s made food but doesn’t know what a Big Mac tastes like. She asks Daniel what beef tastes like but the man only replies by saying “different from pork, but more like pork than fish” (Smith, 166). The fact that he knows the taste but cannot describe it reveals a communications barrier between people in the Delta and the Outer States. It is akin to teaching a blind man what colors are. Also, Fen wonders what a Big Mac is like and the man in the suit gives a visual description. In the Outer States, people can use the Internet to look up what a Big Mac looks like but the Delta Region is lacking in computers. Daniel’s answer not only reveals the lack of things taken for granted in the Delta but also a lack of communications between the two areas.

Fen states that although her tribe doesn’t have cattle, she “hear (s) some tribes do” (Smith, 165). She also mentions that she only consumed “seafood and wild pig” (Smith, 166). These quotes reveal that the scattered tribes around the Delta don’t all have the same resources. It implies that they aren’t willing to trade with each other, for tribes with cattle could trade with Fen’s but do not do so, as Fen has never tasted beef. It also reveals that communications between the tribes is lacking, for she has only “heard” that some tribes have cattle.

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8 thoughts on “Analysis of a Quote in Orleans (p 160-234)

  1. I think that this passage just further illustrates the rift between the Delta region and the Outer States. There are clearly so many things that Daniel and his society take for granted. But this passage also shows two other things. First, it expresses the regional differences within the Delta region. Some tribes are able to keep steer, they might trade hide or meet with other tribes, but in Orleans they eat mainly seafood. This could just be an implication of the uneven distribution of different resources throughout the Delta and how things have migrated to areas based on adaptability. Second, this passage also reminds the reader that the initial hurricane strikes that cause all of the destruction, occurred in the not-so-distant past. Obviously years have passed, but the fact that Fen not only recognizes the building as a mcDonald’s but voices her dream of tasting a Big Mac. It has not quite been long enough that people forget entirely, there is still a longing to know what once was.

    Siri

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  2. When reading this passage it stood out to me as well. But like Sirimarie commented, i believe there is deeper meaning to be found in this particular passage. Apart from what was said in the original blog, and what was said within Simimarie’s comment, I believe it also important to point out Fen’s age. Like simimarie said, the destruction occurred in the not-so distant past, being that Fen was able to recognize the McDonald’s shows that she was at least alive during the time McDonalds and other fast food places thrived in New Orleans. However, Fen is still young and her age is shown through her curiosity. She wants to know what McDonalds tastes like, what a big mac is, and how beef tastes like. All of these questions and her peeked interest on such a irrelevant topic, (irrelevant now because there is no place for her to quench her thirst for knowledge of McDonalds on her side of the wall) show the child in her, found underneath her hard exterior and bravado persona she portrays most of the time.

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  3. When first reading this passage I did not find much significance behind it, but after reading your analysis about it I did. The facts that Daniel cannot describe to Fen what a BigMac, or more specifically, pork tastes like, says a lot. It is more than just the difference between the two tribes, it is definitely a barrier between their communicating as well. Clearly, the Delta region does not have nearly as much as what the Outer States have.

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  4. This passage really shows the difference between the two tribes because they can’t describe a Big Mac tastes like to each other. The outer states clearly are much more affluent than the delta region. Daniel clearly has a lot more understanding of the food. The fact that they don’t know what pork is either shows that there is a strong difference between the tribes. This is just a small example of the differences but it really does show the differences between them.

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  5. I was actually very interested in this section. In class, we discussed at length the differences in intelligence between Daniel and Fen. Fen has proven to be a brilliant survivalist, a proper warrior, and she can speak several languages. Sometimes, we get the feeling that Daniel is a bit of dead weight, but he’s also supposed to be a brilliant scientist. When they discuss something as simple as a big mac, or even cheese for that matter, Fen hasn’t the faintest clue what they are or what they taste like. She’s never tried beef, and it seems unlikely that she’s even seen a cow before. It reminds me of that quote (often incorrectly credited to Albert Einstein) “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I am also a fan of this section because it gives us a brief glimpse of humanity in an otherwise dystopian setting. They are able to talk about food as something other than sustenance, but rather something that can be enjoyed.

    -Jimmy Nolan

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  6. I found your comparison of describing the taste of a Big Mac to Fen as describing colors to a blind man. I find that the inability to describe things like this really is seen to exist because we just take advantage of the fact that we don’t usually have to describe things like this because many have never experienced such a divide. I do not believe this is a display of lack of intelligence on Fen’s as much as it is a display of privilege on Daniel’s part.

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  7. I also didn’s find this conversation especially significant at first. However as you point out here, this moment does a great job of highlighting just how much of a divide exists between the Delta and the Outer States. There’s an implication in your analysis that Fen’s lack of familiarity with things like beef and pork make it difficult for Daniel to give a description that is much more than just visual, another point which I really like. Communication is vital and in a small way, this little exchange strongly highlights how little communication there is between the Delta and the outside world and between the tribes within the Delta.

    -Marjorie Eyong

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  8. I like that you chose this passage–it really emphasizes the difficulty of communicating across cultures. Despite their two cultures having diverged fairly recently, Daniel has difficulty communicating with Fen not only what beef tastes like (which is something very difficult to do), but what cows are, what cheese is, and what thousand-island dressing means. There are many moments like this throughout the book, but I think this one is particularly interesting because it highlights something that is so pervasive throughout our culture–in fact, pervasive globally, that it’s difficult to conceive as alien to anybody.
    – Patrick Gibson

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