The relationship between society and the person exists in strongly differing ways in the books Oryx and Crake, The Short Marvelous Life of Oscar Wao, and The Lady in the Dunes. While Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake shows how the specific views society as a source of vicious home entertainment or wealth, Junot Díaz’s The Quick Fascinating Life of Oscar Wao shows a relationship in which society turns down the individual. In turn, Kobo Abe’s The Lady in the Dunes shows a relationship in which society requires the specific into servitude.
Oryx and Crake presents a society in which individuals residing in the time before “the flood” (this story’s armageddon) have lost all sense of social principles. The fundamental theme in this society seems to be sadism (in a non-sexual way); the major types of home entertainment for individuals include the satisfaction of human suffering. The best examples of this are the two primary kinds of home entertainment that Crake and Jimmy enjoy in their youth: Web video games and Internet programs. Games such as “Barbarian Stomp,” “Blood and Roses,” and “Extinctathon” all pit society on one side and utter damage on the other, with the side of utter destruction generally winning (77-81). Their pleasure of such games shows the appeal that death and damage have to people in this society.
The example of their Web reveals, however, is a lot more troubling. Whereas the video games Crake and Jimmy play are fantasy, the shows they enjoy are not. Reveals such as “Felicia’s Frog Squash,” “hedsoff.com,” and “deathrowlive.com” all show acts of violence caused on real individuals for the entertainment of the audience (82-83). And there is such a high need for these shows that Crake presumes that some of the executions are staged; he says that “the viewers wanted to see the executions, yes, however after a while these might get boring” (83 ). People in this society have reached such a high level of corruption that acts of real violence need to be manufactured in order to meet demand.
Aside from the satisfaction of violence, these people have actually also reached a new level of sexual wickedness. Even a basic thing such as viewing the news has 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 depravity is available in the form of a site called “HottTots,” where travelers are recorded “doing things they ‘d be put in jail for back in their home nations” (89 ). The videos involve kids as young as 8 performing sexual acts for the home entertainment of the audience; one only needs to be 18 to legally view these sites, though Jimmy and Crake are able to get around this speed bump to view the material at an even younger age.
Another major theme in Oryx and Crake is elitism. Simply as the person in Jimmy and Crake’s society has lost all appreciation for the value of human life, so too has the upper class lost all empathy for the lower class. Society is now divided into two classes: the elites, who reside in the protective paradise of the compounds, and the plebands, who reside in crowded, infected, and unclean cities. The elites of this society see the lower class as a way to generate income, no matter the expense to human life. The most horrible example of this is the corporation “HelthWyzer.” This business develops cures for diseases, but eventually in history, they ran into a problem: they found out that if they cured all of the diseases, they would no longer generate any revenue. In order to treat this issue, they started concealing brand-new, manufactured illness in the vitamins they offered to the pleband population; when the virus exploded into the population, they released an antidote onto the market– but in minimal quantities “so they’re guaranteed high profits” (211 ).
What is most scary about the vicious and ethically corrupt people of Oryx and Crake is that their dishonest characteristics can be discovered in real-life society today. People are already enthralled by violence in entertainment and games, and there are lots of genuine sites where one can go to see awful violence, physical and sexual, caused on real people. Which is the ultimate claim of Oryx and Crake: that human beings do not value the lives of other humans. The texts postures the concerns: is the society displayed in Oryx and Crake the inevitable endpoint for our own society? And is mankind sadistic by nature? The text thinks so, and its response to this problem is the ultimate example of the devaluation of human life: Crake’s decision that mankind is too imperfect and cruel to continue, and should be erased and changed.
Another book swarming with different human relationships is The Quick Marvelous Life of Oscar Wao. The most intriguing relationship in the book is that between Oscar Wao and society. One of lots of questions that this text asks us is, can a person who is unable to form a positive 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 ultimate geek, maturing in a time when there was absolutely nothing cool about being a geek; he likes to enjoy anime (Robotech and Akira); he likes to play role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons; he is overweight, unathletic, and unattractive. He is not able to comprehend and follow social rules. He speaks in a way that is inappropriate to society, utilizing words found just in dictionaries or comic books. Worst of all, because of his social awkwardness, he is never ever able to interact with woman, an issue that continuously weighs on his soul. In addition to being ostracized by society as geek and a gamer, Oscar is also an outcast because of his race. Due to the fact that he is of a blended ethnicity, “The white kids … treated him with inhuman cheeriness. The kids of color … shook their heads. You’re not Dominican” (49 ). Sadly for Oscar, he is not able to suit the standards of society in any method.
It appears that the text is attempting 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 forced to take extreme measures to remove the discomfort. He ends up being so depressed and downtrodden by his status as an outsider that he tries to take his own life. This becomes somewhat paradoxical in looking for an answer to our initial concern; had Oscar was successful in taking his own life, then society would have won, and the answer would be that rejection by society is a person’s death sentence. Luckily, at least in this story, the person is not eliminated by his rejection and is able to live on.
Sadly, Oscar does wind up losing his life by the end of the story. Rather of losing his life out of anxiety, however, Oscar has the ability to discover 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 bit of aid in doing this by finally having a relationship with a female. It appears, then, that an individual can endure without a positive relationship with society in general, but not if she or he is completely alone; individuals must have some sort of favorable human relationship to assist 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 rather of pricing estimate the popular words of Kurtz, Oscar proclaims, “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 find the charm in the wild of his own individuality.
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 occurs to an individual when he is forced by society into a life he does not want. At the start of the story, Niki has unwittingly been caught in a society that puts no worth on the individual. The village does what is finest for the majority of its inhabitants at the cost of a small minority group, who are forced to live in holes and keep the town from being overrun by the ever-encroaching dunes of sand. Niki understands this however does not agree with it; his mentality is that a person’s supreme duty is to himself, whereas the villagers see the predicament of the individual as unimportant when compared to the predicament of the group.
Niki continues to withstand the impulses of the villagers, however after they keep water from him, he yields to the labor he has actually been pushed into. This is the start of his descent into acceptance of his brand-new life. He starts to justify his new existence by thinking that “work seemed something essential for guy, something which allowed him to endure the aimless flight of time” (158 ). This is the message that the text is trying to communicate: man, when forced into an existence he does not initially desire, will ultimately accept that presence.
Though Niki begins to lose his rebellious spirit, he still looks for to return to his old life beyond the hole. This culminates in one ultimate 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 requests of his captors that he be able to leave the hole every so often to see the world exterior. They accept permit specific concessions if Niki will make love with the lady he is stuck to while they view. This is another main point 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 triggers them to see the subjugated group as subhuman, and the ruled over group loses its humanity; therefore, this kind 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 whims of those above just so he will have the ability to leave the hole once in awhile.
After this last failure of tried escape, more time passes, however with no efforts by Niki to get out of the hole. He still thinks of escaping, however these desires have become a sort of intangible dream; he has actually lost the eagerness for flexibility that he as soon as possessed. At the end of the book, Niki is briefly allowed 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 uninviting to him (238-239). In spite of this glance of freedom, all he can consider is returning back to his life in the hole. This is the final message of the text: when groups of human beings are valued so little by another, they will ultimately become complaisant and certified and accept their lot in life as servants.
Each of these three stories presents a different view of the relationship in between society and the person. Regrettably, all of these relationships seem to present a clash in between the two. One is left questioning if this theme, so common in contemporary literature, signifies the times: is society today as unethical, destructive, and cruel to the individual as these texts make it appear?