Monthly Archives: January 2015

‘Yes Means Yes’

Recent discussions in class has continuously brought up, what we feel like is an inappropriate relationship between Shori and Wright in Fledgling. Even though in the Ina culture Shori is 53, Wright (a fully grown man) and us readers see her as a 11 or 12 year old girl. Despite the fact that Wright sees her as a ” young girl” he is okay with developing an inappropriate sexual relationship with her. In my mind I am thinking “What makes him think this is okay…considering he is a human and not yet apart of the Ina culture where it is acceptable?” Is Shori really consenting to this sexual relationship?

Recently in the news we hear about government officials creating the college campus rape policy ‘Yes Means Yes’. One question surrounding this law is “what does yes mean in this situation?” The Article, Campus Rape: The Problem With ‘Yes Means Yes’ discusses this issue. One of the bill’s co-authors, Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal said “that the affirmative consent standard means a person must say ‘yes.'” Where as feminist writer Amanda Hess points out “that consent can include nonverbal cues such as body language.”

Given the two opinions of these women, is Shori consenting to this relationship? On pages 11-12 in the novel we see the dialogue between Shori and Wright “…”Do I?” He lifted me, squeezed past the division between the seats to my side of the car, and put me on his lap. “Let me bite you again,” I whispered. He smiled. “If I do, what will you let me do?” I heard consent in his voice…”

Depending on what opinion you feel is right out of Lowenthal and Hess’ (from the article) could change the reading and understanding of Shori and Wright’s relationship. Regardless of what consent is, it’s still weird to understand their relationship because the norms in our society.


Link to the article:


Butler Bites

“It amazes me that some people have seen “Bloodchild” as a story of slavery. It isn’t” asserted Octavia Butler in the Afterword of her short story “Bloodchild.” This knowledge of her assertion is what I brought into my readings of fledgling. Consequently too, from the time I read her Afterword, I was enchanted by the information. Butler had begun to have control over my mind. By making that assertion, she influenced my subsequent readings of her work. Continue reading Butler Bites

Trusting Our Senses

In class last Friday, Dr. McCoy warned us to watch for “traps” in Octavia Butler’s work – traps that will provoke us to think or say something that we may not actually mean or believe –that will cause us as readers to think critically about what Butler is trying to say about society. I found myself in one of these traps fairly early in Fledgling: when Shori kisses Theodora for the first time. Continue reading Trusting Our Senses

Defying Magnets

A few years ago, I met a young lady who was on my track and field team. Beyond the physical attraction, her mind captivated me. She was motivated, determined, and she challenged her present capabilities with a drive that I’ve never encountered. So much so, I wanted to do the same; be the same. I felt great around her, because she reflected the ‘me’ I always envisioned. I was encouraged by her actions. Yes, this is what brought me to her… something I wanted for myself. I reasoned to a very close friend about the same experience, and ironically, he was going through the same thing with a young woman too. But I told him that “a person will love another person the more the latter motivates the former and vice versa, to be better.” Perhaps it holds some truth even today, and after the conversation in class about desire and people staying together, I believe it ever more so. Continue reading Defying Magnets

A Whole New Meaning to “Dracula”

So, while caught in the depths of youtube– you know, those places where you have no idea how you got there because you started off listening to August Burns Red and then you’re suddenly watching a compilation of cats saying “no”– I happened upon a new popular artist that sings a song called “Dracula.” Considering the talk that we had in class today about the classic vampire trope and the popular media’s quasi-occult obsession with vampires, I thought this music video was both relevant and comical. Continue reading A Whole New Meaning to “Dracula”

Fledgling: Choice and Free Will

At the start of the novel we are introduced to Shori, who is suffering from violently induced amnesia, which then results in the complete memory loss of the past fifty-three years of her life– more specifically, she has no cultural memory. As a result, the violence that has been done to Shori in this novel are two-fold; on the one hand she has been violated physically by the brain injuries and burns her body sustains and later “heals” from, but she has also had both her culture and her identity violently taken from her as well—not even leaving her in the position to be able to properly grieve the family she has lost because, try as she might, she does not and cannot remember them. Like the cave she has awakened into, there is this big, empty, confusing void of a space where she is not only literally alone, but alone as an experimental hybrid of her kind—the only one of her kind.

Continue reading Fledgling: Choice and Free Will

Shori’s Cave and the Sixth Sense

In light of our class discussion about bringing people together and how a power disparity can complicate the process I found myself drawn to Butler’s motif involving memory and lack of memory. Specifically how memory (or lack of memory) of someone’s own culture can add or diminish their power within a larger society (by this I mean a set of different cultures existing in the same space).

In Fledgling, Butler treats memory as a sort of sixth sense, explaining and reiterating that the Ina people have a heightened memory. Understanding that Shori lacks this sixth sense that everyone in Fledgling has, people and Ina alike, helps us understand that she is still trapped in Plato’s cave, the allusion with which Butler opens her novel. Even though Shori regains her sight like the person in Plato’s allegory who escapes his imprisonment, she never truly regains her memory and as a result remains in an infantile state, never achieving the journey into intellect that Plato describes.

However Shori’s failed journey into intellect does not merely pertain to Plato’s forms, instead Butler wants us to understand that Shiori’s lack of intellect is more accurately stated as her lack of cultural intellect. In a 2003 interview with Daniel Burton Butler explains, “If Shori did not have amnesia she would probably have more in common with the people who raised her than with, say, just an ordinary African-American. But because she has the amnesia, she doesn’t have that much in common with anybody.” Shori in fact exists in a middle space between human and Ina, a culturally ignorant space that suggests she has yet to see the light, to use the Platonic metaphor.

Later Butler depicts how terrible Shori’s cultural ignorance truly is, as we find out that the Ina people do not punish their people with imprisonment, instead they either execute them or, more integral to the point, excommunicate them from the culture. Understanding the Ina culture’s view on isolation helps us to fully understand the tragedy of Shori’s isolation in the middle space of cultural. She exists in a space reserved for the most contemptible people of her culture, those like the Silk family, who at this point in the reading are assumed to be her family’s murderers. The fact that Shiori is aware of her own memory loss and constantly sees the disparity between her own memory and the memory of her people who live and remember hundreds of years is a sort of imprisonment, both in the sense of the Ina form of punishment and again like the people chained to the wall of Plato’s cave.

The “Scentsy” Sex

During last week’s class discussion regarding the question of what brings people together, many interesting thoughts and ideas were presented. Common interests, proximity, power, and even chance were amongst the several suggestions. But perhaps even more baffling than what brings large groups of people together is what brings two individual people – often out of a diverse group full of countless pairing possibilities – together for what (as Dr. McCoy so eloquently put it) “the sexy sex?” Continue reading The “Scentsy” Sex

Fledgling and the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance

While reading Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler, I have been challenged by many controversial plot developments. Being that this novel is a construct of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, I immediately began to think of my education classes with Dr. Keegan. Dr. Keegan introduced my English education class to a theory called Cognitive Dissonance created by Leon Festinger in 1957 (for more click here), that suggests that when humans encounter values and beliefs that come into direct conflict with their own, they wrestle with these new ideas until they can integrate old convictions with the new notions and therefore restore a cognitive balance. This is often done with works of science fiction and fantasy due to the “literary world” that, through being removed from our own world and sense of reality, can create a virtual workshop for readers to experiment and put their beliefs to the test. Due to the fact that the fictional literary world is removed from our own, the experimentation with morality and values is non-threatening to one’s existence and consequently does not send the reader into an existential crisis but rather gives them a platform to explore and develop convictions safely. Continue reading Fledgling and the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance