Although we finished Zulus a couple of weeks ago, I have been meaning to write this post about Everett’s hidden work. Throughout the novel, there are many questions that go through our mind wondering, was this done on purpose? There are two things that stuck out to me in this novel, which I have never noticed before in any other literature work, thus, the purpose of this blog is to critique Everett’s writing choices. These include: using alphabets as chapters and misspellings throughout the novel.
In Zulus, each chapter opens up as an alphabet and follows through in chronological order with a brief description that references to philosophers, writers, and artists. Does it make sense? No. Honestly, if anything it was distracting and if one were to skip the alphabetical vignette, he or she would not miss much. Not only was it confusing it was also misleading. We would read the description, wondering if it will help us understand what the chapter is about or not. Sadly, it did not help. So why would Everett use alphabets as his chapter headings, rather than the typical numbers? Although the author use of alphabetical chapter heading was indeterminate, we, the reader, can interpret it as connections being made that required in-depth research. Out of all the twenty-six chapters, chapter “A” was the most understandable. “A is for Achitophel” (pg. 7). When initially reading the intro of the chapter, it was the only introduction that actually included a word that was related to the story. Much like the chapter headings to be confusing and ultimately chaos, so was Alice Achitophel’s life. The main character in this story is, Alice Achitophel, and it follows through her journey, as being the only woman left on earth that is capable of bearing a child. Sadly after she was raped, believed to be pregnant, and commits an act of resistance, Alice Achitophel sees her life, the way she sees herself. In other words, she sees herself as a fat person trying to let her thin self out, similar to herself as being a fertile women in a world where the government stresses infertility. Ultimately, a social outcast in all cases.
Whenever we pick up a book, we assume it to be edited perfectly. No grammar errors and definitely no misspellings. However, throughout the novel we have noticed obvious misspellings. Such as “diary” instead of “dairy” (pg 126), “prigknot” instead of “pregnant” (pg. 216 ) and last but not least “fecunt” instead of “fertile” (pg. 216 ). Leaving the audience to wonder, was this done on purpose? Or do human beings have this unintentional tendency to detect faults over merits? This reminds me of a video I watched recently, where the teacher is writing down instructions to a math problem. In these problems, majority of the problems were right, however, the teacher on purpose wrote the wrong answer to one of the problem. Shortly after, one of his students enthusiastically raised his or her hand to correct his teacher’s mistake. At the end of the video, the lesson the teacher wanted to present was that, similar to the example presented in his classroom, many people do this in their daily task. By doing so, he emphasized that it is human nature to overlook information presented correctly and that more often incorrectness is pointed out over normalcy. Or could the misspellings just be typos? If there were just one or two, I could believe that, however, there were clearly many misspellings. Another explanation for the double meaning of the misspellings is known as the term, doublespeak. Doublespeak is a language that purposefully obscures, disguises, and distorts the meaning of words. Doublespeak is usually done to distance one from the truth. An example of where doublespeak has been used before is in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Orwell used this literary device to hide the truth or to make the truth sound more pleasant. Similar to Zulus, 1984, is about a dystopian literature, where there are characters trying to find a place to be themselves in a totalitarian government. In Zulus, this could have been done to keep the reader more aware while reading. While we are reading, our eyes catches the mistake, which then we process as if it was a mistake or not, and then correct the sentence with the right word. Thus, creating a process to help the reader better understand the novel.
While I was trying to figure out Everett’s hidden messages, I wondered, as a student aspiring to become part of the medical field, are these mysterious works a gain or loss? Is it better to be direct, clear and to the point to your audience or concealed in order to try to get your message thought through? (Similar to how Everett does it) Let me know what you think, I would love to hear your opinion.