Yelling for Help

While reading Chapter A of Zulus by Percival Everett, I questioned why Alice Achitophel didn’t yell for help when the dirty man was violating her, yet did yell for help in Chapter N when the hungry man was attacking her. I was curious to why Alice allows the first man to act on her, when she knows the ramifications of being pregnant. After my initial reading of Chapter A, I believed that Alice was too weak to yell for help and feared that if she did yell for help and was found, all the blame would be placed on her for not becoming sterilized. However, after reading Chapter N, my initial thoughts on why Alice Achitophel did not call for help changed.

Comparing Chapter A to Chapter N, I have come to the conclusion that the reason Alice yelled out the second time was because she had more to lose. Before being attacked by the dirty man, Alice Achitophel had no family, no friends, and only a house to come home to while being described as a “mound of fat” (12). After becoming pregnant and ruining Mrs. Launders’ antenna, Alice decides to seek refuge, fearing she may be punished by the government where she could potentially lose the only thing in her life that gives it meaning. In Chapter N, Alice no longer is fat and appears to have more confidence in herself. Alice also allows herself to become pregnant by Kevin Peters, which shows the control she has over her new body. Alice’s difference in appearance could have also given her more confidence to save herself from the second man because now she tends to fit in with the rest of the city and doesn’t stand out. Alice’s call for help could also be due to the fear of losing her baby. Not only could have Alice lost her and Kevin Peters’ baby, but she also could have lost Kevin Peters if the man was truly a spy, that Alice deemed him as. Another possibility to why Alice may have called for help is because she feared of returning to the rebel camp, and returning to the lack of control she had over her fat body. Regardless of the reason why Alice Achitophel yelled for help the second time, I believe it shows that she is now in control of her new body.

Zulus may be fiction, yet it connects to real events that have occurred throughout the history of America where people have no control of what is happening to their bodies. In Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington, the lack of consent from experimental subjects, both dead and alive, are revealed. In Chapter 5 grave robbing was used to complete medical experiments and displays, where the deceased and their families did not give medical professionals consent. Along with grave robbing, cancer patients were administered radiation “when the government decided to test radiation on Americans…secretly” (229). When cancer patients entered hospitals many were not informed on what was being administered into their bodies and many “died rapidly” (229). Today, especially on college campuses, understanding and demonstrating consent is part of many, if not all students lives. Although Zulus does not have a definite setting, the message of consent and demonstrating control over your own body has been a relevant topic throughout America’s history and in the present day.

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