As soon as I began reading “Black Rainbow” by Albert Wendt, I immediately thought of George Orwell’s “1984”. The resemblance was impossible to avoid as I continued reading: the tribunals, the relationships with women, their thoughts on the past, and the disappearances. All of these aspects that form the society that is created in “Black Rainbow” seem to resemble the society that was created in “1984”.
The main character’s wife leaves him in the very beginning of the novel, she just disappeared over night. He “woke. My wife was gone. I couldn’t find any trace of her (or anything that was hers) in the house, in the garden or grounds” (pg. 20). In Orwell’s “1984”, people would disappear overnight as well. The thought police would come and take them. Nobody else knew where they went until they were being taken themselves.
Following her disappearance, her husband notices a news report of her being in a car accident and dying immediately. He is then informed that “we’ve faked her death so ya enemie’sll stop lookin’ for her” (pg. 21). His refrigerator is even empty; they completely removed all physical proof of her existence. In “1984”, when the thought police would take somebody away, their name would be removed from old new articles or from schedules. They would completely disappear.
The Tribunal even replaced his wife with another woman who looked similar, when she greeted him she explains, “I hope you don’t mind. They asked me to come and take care of your house” (pg, 23). Her purpose isn’t for companionship or love, it’s to look after the house and to keep him company. In “1984”, they were not permitted to have romantic affairs unless it was to make a child. The monitors watched their every move and made sure of this.
The resemblance continues to carry out throughout the rest of the novel as well. It is difficult to overlook and it drives more thought into the question asked on the back of the book, “Who are the all-powerful Tribunal and President?” The tribunal seems to be in the same character as Big Brother.