Orleans (160-234)

“Before I know it, I be bending down and my knife be in my hand. I grip it hard. My life be over because of them. Their’s bout to be over too. I wrap an arm around Baby Girl and edge toward the door, knife at the ready. They want a war, they got one. I feel a hand touch my shoulder. “Fen?” Daniel whisper. I hesitate, shake my head. I got to do this. He grip my shoulder. I should shake him off, do what I gotta do, but if the baby cry from shaking, I ain’t got no chance at all. I look at Daniel. His eyes be wide, scared. He shake his head no. Every muscle in my body screaming for me to go through that door” (Smith 217).

In this passage, Fen responds with the intention of killing the two men in the library that they were hiding from because they were the ones responsible for the raid of Fen’s tribe; These people did not want their blood, but they simply wanted to start a war, and they were the reason why Fen has become a freesteader and her tribe minus Baby Girl is dead. Her automatic instinct of killing these two men is a combination of her internal pain for the loss of the people she loves, and the fact that she was brought up in Orleans and how she was raised with a combination of abiding by the motto ” Every man for himself” and the need to constantly protect her tribe. The phrase “My life be over because of them” demonstrates her need to act out on revenge, and do justice for her tribe.

This passage does a remarkable job of comparing and contrasting Daniel and Fen and how they respond to danger, which further gives us insight into their character. While Fen is used to acting and thinking quick on her feet, Daniel is not accustomed to constantly being in the sight of danger. From this passage and the incident where he could have killed everyone including Baby Girl and Fen with his virus in order to get himself out alive, it is clear that he is very sympathetic and focused on doing the  morally and humanely right thing, which is mainly because he lived outside the wall and did not have to grow up and harsh environments like Fen. He avoids killing and hurting people as much as possible, and holds Fen back from doing the same.

It is evident that Daniel and Fen have had an impact on each other and each of them is partially responsible for the growth of the other. In this quote, we can see that Daniel convinces Fen to not kill the two men who killed her tribe. Throughout the book, Fen has always been the rational thinker and Daniel acts as the “muscle”, and they need the other to survive. Here for once, Daniel was the one who was able to realize that killing the two of them would not benefit them in anyway; In other words, Daniel started think like Fen, he started to think like a survivor. Before this situation, the old Fen would have disregarded what Daniel wanted her to do and just shoved him off, but since she obeys him for once, it is clear that she trusts him, and it is evident that she has softened up towards Daniel and become less of a cold hearted person. She realize that her, Baby Girl, and Daniel are now a tribe, and they need each other to survive.

Fen’s grammar has significantly improved throughout the book because of her constant interaction with Daniel, who has perfect and fluent english. In this passage however, we can see that her grammar has reverted to how it was in the beginning of the book, because she is in a state of panic and she does not have the time to think in proper english. This tells the reader how she is not only acting as Fen from the member of the tribe, but thinking like one too. The bluntness of her sentences indicates how everything seems black and white to Fen, and how morality to her is not something complicated, and that the only obvious answer to this situation is to kill them, and that is all.

-Vennela Gadde

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2 thoughts on “Orleans (160-234)

  1. I found that this passage was interesting as well in that despite the fact that Fen clearly wished to attack the 2 men she hesitated due to Daniel. When they had first met I doubt that Fen would have payed Daniel’s opinion any attention in a situation like this, as in her opinion he is next to useless; the only redeeming factor in her mind is that Daniel has promised to get Baby Girl out of Orleans. The fact that she actually stopped, even for a moment, is evidence to the possibility that Fen actually cares a bit about Daniel’s opinion. Eventually it was the mention of a character that Fen knew from when Lydia was alive that convinced her not to attack the men and instead listen for any information about why they attacked in the first place, and had it not been for Daniel’s intervention she would have never known about who organized the attack. Despite the fact that Daniel is still a burden in her eyes, his worth is improving.

    -Justin Wright

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  2. Fen shows a lot of symptoms of PTSD, which makes a lot of sense given her upbringing and environment. Flashbacks, anxiety, fight/flight response, outbursts. So, when Daniel, this man who has never faced the same stress she has, and a baby, who functions more like an object than a character, need her to protect them, she doesn’t understand how to be altruistic if it means risking her own life and having to disregard initial actions. And while she does develop the ability to protect others, doing so is fighting against her instincts. She is now spiritually succeeding Lydia as the head and caretaker of her “tribe,” and as such needs to grow as a person.

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