Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Controlled Fate

In Albert Wendt’s novel Black Rainbow, the main character struggles to navigate through a controlling “utopian world”. John is faced with numerous situations that appear to be set up by this community in which he lives. This theme that questions what is reality and what is not was also presented in Invisible cities. Just as Marco sets up a series of fantastical descriptions of places that may or may not exist, John is faced with the inability to distinguish between what is a dream and what is not. The reader is given multiple clues that may aid in determining the goal of this Utopia and what it does to the people that inhabit it. Throughout the first half of the novel, John’s transformation into a person he is not familiar with represents the manipulative control that he has fallen victim to. It is almost like he has been deliberately placed in “stories” to test his loyalty and his role as “The Chosen One”. 

John is constantly questioning himself and unsure about what has happened to him previously. In one instance he explains, “I’d missed a whole day...Histories can be erased, I remembered the Tribunal telling me. Erased and replaced with histories that please us (65). His perceptions seemed to be affected by an outside source against his wish. However, this is the way the world that John lives in operates. This Utopia does not want people to remember negative events because that can destroy the constant state of “peace” that they strive for. In another incident John states “But I’ve never killed anyone before!” which demonstrates the change in his make up as an individual (77). There is constant comparison between John and Jekyll and Hyde which indicates this new person that John appears to be becoming. 

Throughout John’s travels there is also a constant reminder that everyone knows everything about everyone. In an effort to rid of any possible problems, the President uses surveillance in order to stop “ dark secrets, conspiracies, plots, hoarding, individual dreams of being more powerful than your neighbour, which had been the curse of previous centuries” (93). Therefore, everything that is known originates from a story that was told before. People do not have histories of their own but instead histories that have already occurred. That is why John had “undergone the prescribed process of Dehistorying”(33). The Tribunal possesses all knowledge of who John is, or was. It is unclear whether every person suffers this same process, but it is without a doubt one of the ways in which the President controls the travels, motives, thoughts, and actions of John in a way that is beneficial to this “Utopia” as a whole. 

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