Height in Fledgling

Throughout Fledgling, one of the prominent points (although the purpose of which remains unclear) is that Shori is short, or small. In the first chapter it is revealed that she possesses the body of what looks like a ten or eleven year old. This small body is contrasting to her vivacious and bold character. Her strength exceeds that of most adults; her bravery appears to be everlasting. And it brings an interesting (if not baffling) twist into the mix when it is revealed that Shori is a fifty-three year old woman. An adult according to human standards. However, it is then revealed that according to Ina standards, Shori is still in fact considered a child. So yes, she is considered a child by Ina standards, but her personality is clearly that of a more mature female. It is evident from the narration from the beginning of the novel that it is not the inner workings of a “child’s” mind.

What I find interesting is that this is a first person narrative written by a woman who went through life as an exceptionally tall women. Not only that, but Butler was also extremely, or as it has even been referred to, “painfully” shy.


Butler with her mother in 1951

Maybe through writing the character of Shori, Butler got to experience life as someone who wasn’t defined by their height and who wasn’t debilitated by their shyness. Something about that resolution seems too simple…but then again, maybe it isn’t. For a young child, or for an adult, writing is one of many ways (along with reading) to live another life, if not vicariously. When asked what is “is” about writing during an interview in 2000, Butler responded: “You got to make your own worlds. You got to write yourself in it.”


Is that the “reason” for Shori’s defining characteristics (outwardly, that is) being the complete opposite of Butler’s? (Internally, it could be argued, that they are quite similar). Was Butler experiencing life through a different lens by creating Shori? Or is Butler’s own height and personality completely unrelated to the story?

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