On October 23rd when we first began discussing Clay’s Ark, we briefly discussed the physical appearance and attributes of Eli and the rest of the people in the enclave as opposed to Blake, Rane and Keira. Because of this, I began reflecting on how the appearance of people can give off a certain vibe about someone, causing us to go against the idea of “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Think about almost every Disney movie ever. There’s a hero, and there’s a villain. The hero is almost always attractive, healthy and lovable, and the villain is almost always ugly, sickly looking and an outcast. For example, look at this image of Mufasa and Scar from Disney’s The Lion King, which clearly shows the physical differences between the hero and the villain. We were ultimately swayed to lean towards the idea that the people in the enclave were villainous and bad intentioned because they were outcast from the “real world” and were physically unattractive, with features such as extreme thinness and excessive sweating and trembling, and of course they kidnapped the “normal” characters of the book, Blake, Rane and Keira, who were all normal and healthy human beings living in the real world.
Not only do the people with the disease have appearance based physical attributes that portray them as evil, but they also have abnormal human abilities, such as super strength, super speed, increased agility and increased ability to read human body language. This brings up the idea where I got my title from: are the people in the enclave super heroes or super villains? Both have super powers, but super heroes have good intentions and super villains have bad intentions.
From the viewpoint of Blake, Rane and Keira (at least in the beginning of the story), these people are made out to be villains; they captured the three of them, held them hostage and exposed them to a deadly illness. Therefore, Blake was made out to be the hero for wanting to cure the disease. Not only this, but the people in the enclave give off the vibe of being villainous, considering the discussion above about the appearances of heroes vs villains. Despite the viewpoint of Blake and his family, though, it becomes clear throughout the progression of the story that the people in the enclave care about their “victims” and the overall control of the disease. They have no moral desire to infect others and/or start an epidemic, but the extraterrestrial organism infecting them takes over their instincts and reasoning, making it almost impossible to not spread the disease somehow.
As we continued to read, the roles that the readers see sort of switched, especially with Blake: he is trying to escape (which is reasonable, he and his family were kidnapped against their will) but because of his swelled ego from being a doctor and thinking he can fix this disease that clearly has no medical solution, he put the whole world in danger by carelessly spreading the disease, which he knew would happen but thought he could resist it, and ultimately caused a world wide epidemic. Eli and the rest of the group in the enclave were resisting the strongest urges and instincts they have developed because of the disease, in order to protect others and avoid the spread of this deadly and terrifying disease, even if it meant that they themselves and their kind would not survive. I would say spreading a potentially deadly disease to the whole world isn’t very heroic (whether or not it was intentional), and sacrificing your own needs and potential to live is something a true superhero would do, not a super villain.