Reason Doesn’t Live Here: Octavia Butler’s Fledgling

So much of our world and society is divided into systems and categories. Beneficial? Sure, sometimes, but more often than not, these categories are used to divide us and highlight our differences. Today, it’s easy to think about how many categories we have, and surrounding my immediate world and existence there are a myriad of them; within the natural hair world, there is hair-typing, colleges have ranks and divisions, and within communities of color, there is often tension between those who are lighter and those who are darker. With so many systems and people so quick to categorize, I try to keep myself out of anyone’s box. Hair type? Mine. College? Expensive. Light or dark? Neither. The same applies in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling. Shori is a fifty-three-year-old vampire who appears to be eleven or twelve to humans. She is different, because she is the product of an experiment that made her darker than the traditional pale-skinned vampires through the use of melanin. Because of this melanin, she is able to go out into the sun, whereas those without melanin are restricted to going out only at night and sleeping during the day. Although this genetic change enhances Shori’s quality of life and can do the same for other vampires, other Ina have begun to attack her community and her family because of her dark(er) skin. Butler, through Shori and her symbionts and enemies, tells a story that we all know too well. This isn’t the first narrative of someone being attacked for the color of his/her skin. During the Civil Rights Era, the Ku Klux Klan were prominent in their attacks on African-Americans. Segregation was found in schools all over the country until the Brown v. Board of Education deemed that separate but equal was inherently unequal–and even then, not all schools were integrated. What Butler best highlights in Fledgling is that bigotry is not rooted in reason. The logical step for the Silks (lighter Inas) who cannot go into the sun would be to undergo the same treatment that Shori did; instead, they act maliciously. The Silks efforts backfire, as they have now lost all of their sons, meaning their family name will die. Their is no reward in categorization and bigotry. Though the punishment may not be immediate, it is imminent.

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One thought on “Reason Doesn’t Live Here: Octavia Butler’s Fledgling

  1. From reading both the novel and this post does it not show that change is unwanted from others even when it is good. This melanin change can go to others so that their children can have a better time. But people saw that change was bad no matter what and want to eliminate all the people who don’t look exactly like them when On train. comes to skin tone. There is a hate because in this case someone is better because the sun isn’t as damaging so they believe it is best to eliminate this.

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