Shori Matthews: More Human or Ina?

After finishing Fledgling and our discussion of Shori as a character in class, I decided to look into why Shori is such a likeable individual. More so, I want to look into Shori’s “Ina traits” and her “human traits”. Is Shori more human or Ina? Can we even classify all traits into human and Ina categories?

Perhaps one of the most apparent characteristics of Shori and other Ina is that they age very slowly. Wright thinks that Shori is ten or eleven when in reality, she is fifty-three. Does Shori’s child-like appearance make her likeable? I believe at first glance that it does. For example, there are certain characteristics that we associate with children. Such characteristics include: innocence, purity, happiness, dependent upon others, adventurous, small, curious, young, funny, and honest. For most people, I feel as though they tend to assign positive traits to children, reflecting how they feel about them. Even though Shori is far from a child in human years, her physical appearance leads most to immediately categorize her as a child.

Another aspect that makes Shori a very likeable character is her genetic makeup. Her mixture of human and Ina DNA give her desirable characteristics and advantages in the Ina community. Shori’s genetic composition allows her to stay awake during the day and walk in the sun. These are tremendous advantages to any Ina, resulting in many Ina families, like the Gordons, wanting to mate with Shori. However, these traits are also a problem. For example, the Silks find Shori to be a threat to the Ina. They do not see her as a real Ina due to her human characteristics and label her as an outcast.

One quality that definitely makes Shori likeable is her bite. Butler writes, “Venom from Ina females is more potent than venom from males” (109).  Shori’s symbionts love receiving Shori’s bite. For them as well as Shori, it is an intoxicating euphoric experience. Although this clearly makes the symbionts like Shori, does it hinder their perception of her? Do they actually like Shori or do they like the pleasure they get from her bite? Does this bite make them want to stay with her or do they willing choose to? I believe that her bite plays a huge role in determining whether these symbionts choose to stay and bond with Shori. I guess the more specific question I have is: How large a role does Shori’s bite play in the symbionts perception of her?

Finally, one of the main reasons why I like Shori is the human way in which Octavia Butler chooses to portray her. Shori’s human characteristics make her more relatable to the reader. In addition, it makes it easier to sympathize with her and root for her during the Council of Judgement. Shori is an extremely moral character within the book. Her morality can be most clearly seen in the treatment of her symbionts. As a group of people, Shori treats her symbionts very well, but she also takes the time to go to each of them individually. Even when Shori meets her father and others of her kind, she still puts her symbionts first, making sure that they will be okay moving into a new community and directing questions regarding their needs. She also seeks justice for the ones she loves such as her Ina families and Theodora. Because Shori follows her moral compass and feels things on such a deep level, Shori is depicted as a loveable character.

Do you think Shori is more human or more Ina?

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