The relationship in between society and the individual exists in strongly differing ways in the novels Oryx and Crake, The Short Marvelous Life of Oscar Wao, and The Female in the Dunes. While Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake demonstrate how the individual views society as a source of sadistic home entertainment or wealth, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao reveals a relationship in which society declines the individual. In turn, Kobo Abe’s The Lady in the Dunes shows a relationship in which society requires the individual into bondage.
Oryx and Crake provides a society in which individuals residing in the time prior to “the flood” (this story’s apocalypse) have actually lost all sense of social ethics. The fundamental style in this society seems to be sadism (in a non-sexual way); the major kinds of entertainment for individuals involve the pleasure of human suffering. The very best examples of this are the 2 main forms of home entertainment that Crake and Jimmy enjoy in their youth: Internet video games and Internet 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 generally winning (77-81). Their satisfaction of such video games reveals the appeal that death and destruction have to individuals in this society.
The example of their Internet reveals, nevertheless, is even more troubling. Whereas the video games Crake and Jimmy play are dream, the shows they enjoy are not. Reveals such as “Felicia’s Frog Squash,” “hedsoff.com,” and “deathrowlive.com” all display acts of violence inflicted on genuine individuals for the home entertainment of the audience (82-83). And there is such a high demand for these shows that Crake believes that some of the executions are staged; he says that “the audiences wished to see the executions, yes, however after a while these could get tedious” (83 ). People in this society have actually reached such a high level of corruption that acts of genuine violence have to be made in order to satisfy demand.
Aside from the enjoyment of violence, these individuals have actually also reached a brand-new level of sexual depravity. Even a basic thing such as viewing the news needs to have some level of sexual stimulation to keep individuals amused; for this, there is the “Noodie News,” a news show in which all of the anchors are entirely naked (81 ). The worst example of sexual wickedness can be found in the type of a site called “HottTots,” where travelers are filmed “doing things they ‘d be put in jail for back in their home nations” (89 ). The videos include kids as young as eight carrying out sexual acts for the home entertainment of the viewer; one only has to be 18 to legally see these websites, though Jimmy and Crake are able to get around this speed bump to view the material at an even younger age.
Another major style in Oryx and Crake is elitism. Just as the person in Jimmy and Crake’s society has actually lost all appreciation for the worth of human life, so too has the upper class lost all compassion for the lower class. Society is now divided into two classes: the elites, who reside in the protective paradise of the substances, and the plebands, who live in crowded, unhealthy, and filthy cities. The elites of this society view the lower class as a method to generate income, no matter the cost to human life. The most revolting example of this is the corporation “HelthWyzer.” This company establishes cures for diseases, but at some time in history, they ran into a problem: they determined that if they treated all of the diseases, they would no longer produce any profit. In order to remedy this issue, they started hiding new, manufactured illness in the vitamins they offered to the pleband population; as soon as the virus took off into the population, they released a remedy onto the marketplace– however in limited amounts “so they’re guaranteed high profits” (211 ).
What is most terrifying about the sadistic and ethically corrupt people of Oryx and Crake is that their unethical qualities can be discovered in real-life society today. People are currently enthralled by violence in entertainment and games, and there are plenty of real websites where one can go to see awful violence, physical and sexual, inflicted on genuine human beings. And that is the supreme claim of Oryx and Crake: that humans do not value the lives of other humans. The texts poses the concerns: is the society displayed in Oryx and Crake the inescapable endpoint for our own society? And is humankind vicious by nature? The text thinks so, and its answer to this issue is the ultimate example of the decline of human life: Crake’s choice that mankind is too imperfect and terrible to continue, and must be erased and changed.
Another book rife with various human relationships is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The most interesting relationship in the book is that between Oscar Wao and society. Among numerous questions that this text asks us is, can a person who is not able to form a positive relationship with society survive? The text shows us that a person 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 enjoys to enjoy anime (Robotech and Akira); he likes to play role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons; he is obese, unathletic, and unappealing. He is not able to comprehend and follow social guidelines. He speaks in such a way that is inappropriate to society, using words found only in dictionaries or comics. Worst of all, because of his social awkwardness, he is never able to communicate with female, an issue that constantly weighs on his soul. In addition to being ostracized by society as geek and a player, Oscar is likewise a castaway since of his race. Due to the fact that he is of a combined ethnic background, “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 suit the requirements of society in any way.
It seems that the text is trying to show us that society itself is unethical in its severe treatment of those who do not fit its mold. This rejection by society so upsets Oscar that he feels required to take extreme measures to eliminate 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 original question; had Oscar was successful 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. Thankfully, at least in this story, the individual is not killed by his rejection and is able to survive on.
Unfortunately, Oscar does wind up losing his life by the end of the story. Instead of losing his life out of anxiety, nevertheless, Oscar has the ability to discover his own strength and defend what he believes 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 bit of aid in doing this by lastly having a relationship with a female. It seems, then, that an individual can endure without a positive relationship with society in general, however not if she or he is totally alone; individuals must have some sort of positive human relationship to help them. Oscar’s final letter, which is provided to Yunior after his death, ends with a reference to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. But rather of quoting the well-known words of Kurtz, Oscar declares, “The beauty! The beauty!” (355 ). By the end of the story, Oscar is able to get out of the wilderness of the society that has declined him and discover the charm in the wild of his own uniqueness.
The main human relationship in The Woman in the Dunes exists through the story’s usage of utilitarianism. The story of Niki Jumpei is the story of what happens to a private when he is required by society into a life he does not want. At the beginning of the story, Niki has unwittingly been trapped in a society that positions no worth on the individual. The town does what is finest for the majority of its residents at the cost of a little minority group, who are required to live in holes and keep the town from being overrun by the ever-encroaching dunes of sand. Niki recognizes this however does not agree with it; his mentality is that an individual’s supreme duty is to himself, whereas the villagers see the plight of the individual as unimportant when compared to the plight of the group.
Niki continues to withstand the impulses of the villagers, however after they keep water from him, he concedes to the labor he has been pushed into. This is the start of his descent into acceptance of his brand-new life. He begins to justify his brand-new presence by thinking that “work appeared something essential for guy, something which allowed him to withstand the aimless flight of time” (158 ). This is the message that the text is attempting to convey: guy, when pushed into an existence he does not initially desire, will eventually accept that presence.
Though Niki begins to lose his defiant spirit, he still looks for to go back to his old life outside of the hole. This culminates in one supreme jailbreak, though it is an unsuccessful one that ends with his capture and go back to the hole. But even after this failure, he still desires some form of his old life and demands of his captors that he be able to leave the hole once in a while to see the world exterior. They consent to permit specific concessions if Niki will make love with the female he is stuck to while they see. This is another main point of the text: when there is one group that is ruled over by another as roughly as Niki and the woman are in this practical system, the elite group’s own authority causes them to see the subjugated group as subhuman, and the subjugated group loses its mankind; therefore, this type of human relationship is a dishonest one. This is exhibited by page 230 of the text, in which Niki attempts to rape the woman at the impulses of those above so he will have the ability to leave the hole occasionally.
After this final failure of attempted escape, more time passes, but with no attempts by Niki to leave the hole. He still thinks of getting away, but these desires have ended up being a sort of intangible dream; he has actually lost the eagerness for flexibility that he as soon as had. At the end of the book, Niki is briefly permitted to leave the hole, however he is so utilized to his life in the dunes that the air above stings his throat, and the ocean appears unappealing to him (238-239). Regardless of this look of liberty, all he can consider is returning back to his life in the hole. This is the final message of the text: when groups of people are valued so little by another, they will eventually become complaisant and compliant and accept their lot in life as servants.
Each of these 3 stories presents a different view of the relationship between society and the individual. Regrettably, all of these relationships appear to present a clash between the 2. One is left questioning if this style, so prevalent in modern literature, suggests the times: is society today as immoral, devastating, and harsh to the specific as these texts make it appear?