Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Prompt 1. Fighting Rescuers

Drowning people
Sometimes die
Fighting their rescuers.
--pg 61

Every human is susceptible to the same fate: of destroying one’s own means of salvation. Teenagers are the best at illustrating this trend, acting out against parental wishes, wishes that for the most part are for the best of the teen. Lauren Olamina is saying the same thing through this Earthseed verse using a very true fact. Sometimes people cannot see the bigger picture, and fight against that which is meant to save them which in turn destroys their hope of what is being pursued in the first place.

There are many examples in this book since death is a prevalent occurrence. Keith is the classic teenager who fights against his parents. In venturing outside the walls of his community he has no idea of the dangers that await him, although he believes he does. Both Cory and Lauren’s father try to get him to understand, to protect him, but Keith refuses to see: “Keith refused he had done anything wrong. He wanted to show he was a man, not a scared girl. It wasn’t his fault that a gang of guys jumped him, beat him, robbed him. He didn’t do anything. It wasn’t his fault”(92). In the end, because he did not heed his parents’ warnings, he was killed. Had he not fought against them and listened, he would have lived longer and not died in the horrible fashion that he had.

A different circumstance involving lesson is through Grayson Mora. He does not trust Lauren’s group and if it wasn’t for his daughter forming such a bond with Tori, then Mora would have never agreed to stay with the group. In Lauren’s belief it is key to unite:

Embrace diversity.
Or be divided,
By those who see you as prey.
Embrace diversity
Or be destroyed.
—pg 196

Mora was against this idea. Regardless of his reasons, he was fighting against Lauren, who was the ‘rescuer’ in this situation. Her ideals include uniting in order to survive, whereas Mora had no plan but would probably have not united with anyone and thus might have been killed without the group’s protection.

Butler and Olamina include this verse in Earthseed in order to illustrate human folly. Not everyone can see the bigger picture, and it is very hard to see when you are included in this picture. For the overall book Butler comments on American society and its spiral downhill. This verse then points out that even when we can see our faults there are more that we cannot. Then when outsiders try to come and rescue us from our plunge we fight against them, regardless of reason (but more likely than not out of fear). In her critique we must be able to stand back and analyze exactly what other’s motivations are, allow those who try to help to do so, and to not fight against those who are trying to save us.

Although Lauren’s ideas of Earthseed are pretty eccentric, not accepted by Henry or many of the other characters in the beginning , with time the group came to accept them, either as Lauren’s ideas or as how the world should interact. Lauren was trying to ‘save’ these people in a sense. She really believes that her new religion could benefit the new society plaguing America. Throughout the journey north her companions are able to accept her theory more and more, by the end choosing to ground and try to actually enact it. As different as her ideas are, it is at least worth a shot and Butler is trying to convince us readers that sometimes as difficult as it is, we have to try things that may not seem like helpful at the time, but in the long run or to an outsider it just may be exactly what we need.


  1. I really liked the beginning of your essay, especially the part about teenagers & Keith. I also felt that the chosen verse applied well to the situation involving Keith & his parents.

    For the second verse, I think it would be a good idea to find a more specific example to analyze it. You could use one of the specific instances where Mora's distrust (or any other character's) for Laura caused the group to be divided, robbed, ruled, etc.

    The last paragraph seems a bit out of place. I think it would work better as part of the introduction since you introduced several ideas that could be further explained.

  2. To expand on Beverly's response a little: the last paragraph does seem out of place, but that doesn't mean it should be abandoned. You've done a fine job thinking through the theme of youthful rebellion, and a decent (although not nearly as convincing) job thinking about Mora and diversity. What is absent, at least to a great extent, is a real response to Lauren, who obviously believes she has a kind of solution both for Mora's resistance and for Keith's rebellion. Your brief discussion of her solution is a clear acknowledgement that it's something you *should* be talking about, but it's brief and unfocused. A revision would need to be at least partially focused around the question of whether Lauren's ideology *does* offer a kind of a solution (You might focus on the novel or on the real world, according to your preferences) .

    To return to your language: she is, indeed, illustrating "human folly." But Lauren asserts that she has an answer to human folly, too. Does she?