The Dirty Deed

Last Friday, Beth made a Google document for us to list our “alarms” which I suppose go hand-in-hand with the “traps” that we have constantly been caught in when reading Fledgling. Among the “alarms” were thoughts about pedophilia, slavery, and polygamy and polyandry. As many of you know, I’ve been constantly struggling with OEB’s diction and word choice. I’ve even gone as far as to call it “cheesy” or even “silly” in many cases. This, I’ve realized, happens to be my own annoying alarm that I’ve been subconsciously battling with, since I tend to stay away from “plastic-like” dialogue and melodramatic cliché in my own writing. Let’s not even get me started on OEB’s usage of “smiles” and “shrugs!”

At any rate, I wanted to bring everyone’s attention to the alarm that I listed in the Google document on Friday. In many ways it has to do with word choice, but it has nothing to with OEB’s seldom cheesiness. In fact the possibility that everything she does in this story, much like the trickiness of poetry, is completely intentional scares me. Perhaps this is a “trap” that OEB has construed purposefully.

On page 22, Shori and Wright have sex for the first time. I avoid using the phrase “make love,” a phrase that would be fitting to a seemingly romantic scene in a novel much like this one, because it doesn’t seem mutual for both characters. It is obvious to readers that Wright is in love with Shori. This is most likely due to his hypnosis because of Shori’s venom. But I digress: I have reason to believe that Shori is not in love with Wright. In fact, I’m just going to come out and say that she needs Wright only for symbiotic necessity. It’s all based on hypnosis, survival, and sex!

As I mentioned before, on page 22 Shori and Wright have a moment of sexual tension. There are a few paragraphs mentioning them stripping off their clothes, feeling each other’s bodies, and then doing the dirty deed. Shori, as we all know is the narrator of this novel so she dictates this scene from her own perspective: “I forgot myself, too. I bit him again just beneath his left nipple and took a little more blood. He shouted and squeezed the breath from me. Then he collapsed on me, empty, spent.” I want to focus on the diction that Shori/OEB uses in the last sentence. Whatever romantic intentions or feelings I felt at the beginning of this scene were immediately washed away in the last sentence. It almost feels as if sex is just a pastime for Shori here. She doesn’t describe her emotions or pure longing for Wright. She does the exact opposite. Wright is “empty, spent:” the sex is over.

On page 84 this simple, almost routine use of language appears again: “He rolled onto me, pushing my legs apart, pushing them out of his way, then thrust hard into me.” It happens again on page 87: “‘That’s the right attitude,’ he said. He rolled over, trapping me beneath him and thrust into me again.” In my own exploration of the English language in other forms of writing or in my own writing, the use of the word “thrust” can imply a violent sexual act usually associated with rape. Shori strays away from using any passionate details when engaging in sex with her symbionts. Is sex not a form of love and companionship for Shori? Or is sex simply something Shori does on her leisure time without any real emotional attachment?

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