Archive for February 2010

The Stone Gods, Jeanette Winterson

I think the comparison between Billie and Spike is essential in the importance of this novel. Throughout the reading we discover that Billie is a human woman living during this time and Spike is a robo-sapien that was created to go on a mission to Planet Blue and will be destroyed after the mission in order to not compromise any data. We also learn that Spike is very attractive, even to Billie who mentions it many times. This is interesting because several times in the novel I found myself picturing Spike as a human. The way she is described and her intelligence made her comparable to a human for me. Billie also displays great intelligence and a sort-of resistance to the way the world is being handled during the time. However Billie shows very much emotion. The fact that she shows her emotion and frustration allowed me to envision her as more humanlike than Spike.

The two central figures are comparable though because they are put in many adventurous situations entering the new world. However, the story does introduce a love-like story along with a survival story. The emphasis on the two characters really makes me question what is considered human. It makes me think about if one feels love- shouldn’t that be considered human? Things like language, actions, sex, and personality are qualities that I associate with being human. Spike consists of these qualities and portrays herself in many ways like a human. However, there is always something me holding me back from completely classifying her as one. When it was described that she was built solely for one mission and had no purpose after that except for being destroyed really made me question the process because Billie was connecting with her. I think the author included this connection purposefully in order to create the question of human boundaries and it was successful in making me question them.


1 comment February 27, 2010

Dawn, Octavia E. Butler

  I think there are many similarities that can be made when comparing Octavia Butler’s novel Dawn and Marge Piercy’s novel Woman on the Edge of Time. Elements of gender and language are repeated themes between the two novels. The main character in Dawn, Lilith, is confused of her whereabouts and the time period she is now in. She is held captive by these alien figures that repeatedly ask her questions without ever uncovering their motives. When she is removed from isolation and a “man” enters her room to begin explaining her situation we, the reader, start to see the parallels of language and gender standards between the two novels.

In Woman on the Edge of Time language can either be oppressive or freeing. Words are made up or eliminated all together and replaced with an all-encompassing word. For example any pronouns such as his/her was replaced with “per” eventually understood as person. In Dawn when Lilith meets Jdahya she asks him, “What his people call themselves?” On page 23 he answers, “We are Oankali.” She replies, “Sounds like a word in some Earth language.” He responds, “It may be, but with different meaning.” Finally she says, “What does it mean in your language.” This dialogue portrays the differences in language developed by the author between Lilith and Jdahya, yet they can understand each other. In both novels the language between the two different worlds are different but communication is still achievable.

Along with language, gender norms are also similar between the novels. “Lilith states I glanced at the humanoid body, wondering how human like it really was. I don’t mean any offense, but are you male or female.” (page 13) Jdahya responds that it is wrong for her to assume that he is a sex that she would be familiar with. It happens that he is make, but a character discussed later in the story is never given a specific gender and is referred to as “it”. The same assumptions are made by Connie when she comes into contact with Luciente from Mattapoisett. The gender norms of their society are completely different from anything the human population is used to. In both Dawn and Woman on the Edge of Time gender is varied between present and future societies as well as language.

1 comment February 17, 2010

The Female Man, Joanna Russ

  In the narrative Female Man written by Joanna Russ, one particular chapter stuck out in my reading. In Part 8 Chapter 5 Alice Reasoner, Jael, is making interesting interpretations between herself and each of the three other characters. She makes the statement, “they are four versions of the same woman.” Jael concludes that their genetics are the same and each would look alike and think alike if it weren’t for their environments. I think she introduces an interesting concept of how much our environment has an effect on our personalities and characteristics.

Each of the four woman have distinct qualities that correlate with their universes. Joanna is from a place similar to Earth in the 1970s and is described as attractive, not depressed, and sits with her spine like a ruler. Janet is from a utopian society called Whileaway and possesses all the Whileawayan improvements, no sinus trouble, no allergies, and she is muscular. Jeannine lives in a world where the Great Depression never ended and is described as intelligent. Jael notes herself as strong enough to throw them all across the room. She says, “they ought to be equally long-lived but aren’t and ought to be equally healthy but were not.” (162)

Jael makes several inferences about the way things should be and how these women should compare, but blames their differences on the effect of their environments. Is this a fair accusation? I believe that knowing all the woman originate from very different universes, where the role of gender is widely contrasting and the norms of civilization are completely different supports the idea of their environments molding their characteristics. Lastly, Jael states, “So plastic is humankind!” (162) I took this to mean that all humankind can be shaped and molded by their surroundings. A person’s environment directly impacts their beliefs, meaning someone’s values can also be changed. I think Russ included this section purposefully to sway preexisting ideas during the feminist movement.

Add a comment February 12, 2010

What I Didn’t See, Karen Joy Fowler

The narrative written by Karen Joy Fowler immediately, by the title, puts an emphasis on the event the narrator does not see. What I Didn’t See has a female narrator that describes how men take advantage of these two women merely because they are women and not because of their intelligence or talent. The men use these women because if they were to complete their mission of hunting the gorillas, that they were women would deter other big game hunters from the gorillas. During this trip, Beverly goes missing and the main character misses how this happened. The narrator is sent home and not until years later does her husband revealed what she had missed seeing.

According to statements made earlier in the narrative, I immediately thought I knew what happened to Beverly the day she went missing. I wasn’t sure of the details but earlier in the story cannibalism was mentioned as well as the two women having to hide their bodies in fear of being eaten. “Beverly and I would have tried, only we couldn’t bathe without the nuisance of being spied on. Whether this was to see if we looked good, or only good to eat, I did not wish to know.” ( 342) From the beginning I believe they foreshadowed the event that would eventually take place. The fact that when this statement was made, they were sitting by a body of water wishing they could undress and wash themselves but were in fear. At the end of the story when Beverly is removed from the story, the last place she was seen was by a stream of water with the other woman, the main character. I think it was very interesting how this connection was made between the two incidents. It isn’t very clear but I believe it was included for a reason.

The event the narrator didn’t see was thought to be her disappearance due to a gorilla but eventually her husband reveals the evidence that it was discovered Beverly was taken by the porters accompanying the mission. He said he noticed their strange behavior and anger. The reader then realizes that the event the narrator didn’t see was much more violent than imagined.

1 comment February 6, 2010






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