The relationship between society and the person is presented in strongly differing ways in the novels Oryx and Crake, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and The Female in the Dunes. While Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake shows how the private views society as a source of sadistic home entertainment or wealth, Junot Díaz’s The Short Marvelous Life of Oscar Wao reveals a relationship in which society declines the individual. In turn, Kobo Abe’s The Female in the Dunes reveals a relationship in which society forces the specific into servitude.
Oryx and Crake presents a society in which people residing in the time prior to “the flood” (this story’s apocalypse) have lost all sense of social ethics. The prevailing theme in this society appears to be sadism (in a non-sexual method); the significant types of home entertainment for individuals include the pleasure of human suffering. The best examples of this are the 2 primary forms of entertainment that Crake and Jimmy enjoy in their youth: Internet games and Web shows. Games such as “Barbarian Stomp,” “Blood and Roses,” and “Extinctathon” all pit society on one side and utter destruction on the other, with the side of utter destruction normally winning (77-81). Their pleasure of such video games reveals the appeal that death and destruction need to individuals in this society.
The example of their Web reveals, nevertheless, is a lot more disturbing. Whereas the video games Crake and Jimmy play are fantasy, the programs they see are not. Shows such as “Felicia’s Frog Squash,” “hedsoff.com,” and “deathrowlive.com” all show acts of violence caused on genuine individuals for the entertainment of the audience (82-83). And there is such a high demand for these programs that Crake believes that some of the executions are staged; he says that “the viewers wished to see the executions, yes, however after a while these could get monotonous” (83 ). Individuals in this society have actually reached such a high level of corruption that acts of real violence need to be made in order to satisfy demand.
Aside from the enjoyment of violence, these people have also reached a brand-new level of sexual depravity. Even a simple thing such as seeing the news has to have some level of sexual stimulation to keep people amused; for this, there is the “Noodie News,” a news program in which all of the anchors are entirely naked (81 ). The worst example of sexual depravity comes in the type of a website called “HottTots,” where tourists are filmed “doing things they ‘d be put in jail for back in their home countries” (89 ). The videos involve children as young as 8 performing sexual acts for the entertainment of the viewer; one only needs to be 18 to legally view these sites, though Jimmy and Crake have the ability to navigate this speed bump to see the material at an even more youthful age.
Another major theme in Oryx and Crake is elitism. Simply as the person in Jimmy and Crake’s society has actually lost all gratitude for the value of human life, so too has the upper class lost all compassion for the lower class. Society is now divided into 2 classes: the elites, who reside in the protective paradise of the compounds, and the plebands, who reside in crowded, diseased, and filthy cities. The elites of this society see the lower class as a method to make money, no matter the cost to human life. The most revolting example of this is the corporation “HelthWyzer.” This company develops remedies for diseases, however at some time in history, they ran into an issue: they determined that if they cured all of the illness, they would no longer generate any earnings. In order to correct this problem, they began hiding new, man-made diseases in the vitamins they sold to the pleband population; when the infection blew up into the population, they released a remedy onto the market– however in limited amounts “so they’re ensured high profits” (211 ).
What is most terrifying about the vicious and morally corrupt individuals of Oryx and Crake is that their dishonest attributes can be discovered in real-life society today. People are already enthralled by violence in entertainment and video games, and there are plenty of genuine sites where one can go to see dreadful violence, physical and sexual, inflicted on genuine human beings. Which is the supreme claim of Oryx and Crake: that humans do not value the lives of other people. The texts postures the concerns: is the society shown in Oryx and Crake the inescapable endpoint for our own society? And is humankind vicious by nature? The text thinks so, and its response to this problem is the supreme example of the decline of human life: Crake’s choice that humanity is too imperfect and cruel to continue, and must be eliminated and changed.
Another book swarming with various human relationships is The Quick Fascinating Life of Oscar Wao. The most fascinating relationship in the book is that in between Oscar Wao and society. Among lots of questions that this text asks us is, can a person who is unable to form a favorable relationship with society endure? The text reveals us that an individual who does not fit into society’s standards is not valued by society. Oscar is the essential geek, growing up in a time when there was nothing cool about being a nerd; he likes to watch anime (Robotech and Akira); he likes to play role-playing video games such as Dungeons and Dragons; he is overweight, unathletic, and unsightly. He is not able to comprehend and follow social guidelines. He speaks in a way that is undesirable to society, using words found just in dictionaries or comic books. Worst of all, since of his social awkwardness, he is never able to interact with female, a problem that continuously weighs on his soul. In addition to being ostracized by society as geek and a player, Oscar is also a castaway because of his race. Due to the fact that he is of a combined ethnicity, “The white kids … treated him with inhuman cheeriness. The kids of color … shook their heads. You’re not Dominican” (49 ). Regrettably for Oscar, he is unable to fit into the requirements of society in any method.
It appears that the text is trying to reveal us that society itself is unethical in its harsh treatment of those who do not fit its mold. This rejection by society so upsets Oscar that he feels required to take drastic measures to remove the pain. He ends up being so depressed and downtrodden by his status as an outsider that he tries to take his own life. This becomes rather paradoxical in looking for an answer to our initial concern; had Oscar prospered in taking his own life, then society would have won, and the answer would be that rejection by society is an individual’s death sentence. Fortunately, a minimum of in this story, the person is not killed by his rejection and has the ability to live on.
Sadly, Oscar does end up losing his life by the end of the story. Instead of losing his life out of depression, however, Oscar has the ability to find his own strength and stand up for what he thinks in. In the end, Oscar has the ability to transcend his rejection by society and accept himself for who he is. However, he does have a little bit of assistance in doing this by finally having a relationship with a lady. It seems, then, that a person can endure without a favorable relationship with society in general, however not if he or she is entirely alone; people must have some sort of positive human relationship to help them. Oscar’s last letter, which is delivered to Yunior after his death, ends with a referral to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. However instead of pricing quote the famous words of Kurtz, Oscar declares, “The beauty! The charm!” (355 ). By the end of the story, Oscar is able to get out of the wilderness of the society that has actually rejected him and discover the beauty in the wild of his own uniqueness.
The main human relationship in The Woman in the Dunes exists through the story’s use of utilitarianism. The story of Niki Jumpei is the story of what takes place to an individual when he is required by society into a life he does not desire. At the start of the story, Niki has unwittingly been caught in a society that positions no worth on the person. The village does what is finest for the majority of its residents at the expense of a small minority group, who are required to live in holes and keep the village from being overrun by the ever-encroaching dunes of sand. Niki understands this however does not concur with it; his mentality is that an individual’s supreme obligation is to himself, whereas the villagers see the predicament of the specific as unimportant when compared to the predicament of the group.
Niki continues to resist the whims of the villagers, but after they withhold water from him, he yields to the labor he has actually been pushed into. This is the beginning of his descent into approval of his new life. He starts to justify his brand-new presence by believing that “work seemed something essential for guy, something which allowed him to sustain the aimless flight of time” (158 ). This is the message that the text is attempting to communicate: guy, when forced into an existence he does not originally want, will eventually accept that existence.
Though Niki begins to lose his defiant spirit, he still seeks to go back to his old life beyond the hole. This culminates in one ultimate jailbreak, though it is a not successful one that ends with his capture and return to the hole. But even after this failure, he still desires some form of his old life and requests of his captors that he have the ability to leave the hole once in a while to see the world outside. They accept permit specific concessions if Niki will make love with the lady he is stuck with while they view. This is another bottom line of the text: when there is one group that is subjugated by another as harshly as Niki and the female remain in this utilitarian system, the elite group’s own authority causes them to see the ruled over group as subhuman, and the subjugated group loses its mankind; therefore, this type of human relationship is a dishonest one. This is exemplified by page 230 of the text, in which Niki tries to rape the woman at the whims of those above just so he will be able to leave the hole once in awhile.
After this last failure of attempted escape, more time passes, however without any attempts by Niki to get out of the hole. He still considers leaving, but these desires have become a sort of intangible dream; he has lost the eagerness for freedom that he when had. At the end of the book, Niki is briefly allowed to leave the hole, however he is so used to his life in the dunes that the air above stings his throat, and the ocean appears uninviting to him (238-239). Despite this glance of liberty, all he can think of is returning back to his life in the hole. This is the last message of the text: when groups of people are valued so little by another, they will ultimately end up being complaisant and certified and accept their lot in life as servants.
Each of these three stories provides a various view of the relationship in between society and the person. Unfortunately, all of these relationships seem to provide a clash between the 2. One is left questioning if this style, so common in modern literature, signifies the times: is society today as unethical, damaging, and terrible to the private as these texts make it appear?