Are We Really The Victims?

I found out after I wrote this that this blog post is actually not meant for our class, but I still think the content can be related back to what our class discusses. The topic of the blog post was the fact that people who tend to read more are able to be more empathetic and sympathetic than those who don’t due to their ability to put themselves in the shoes of the characters in the stories that they read. I thought this was especially interesting in the context of us reading Zone One.

I’m sure that everyone in our class has read a good number of books within their academic career or on their own personal time, so we have tried putting ourselves in the place of the characters within the book. This makes me wonder if anyone in our class has thought to put themselves in the position of the zombies in Zone One. I know a few of our classmates have already made the connection of the skels to some of the previous novels we have read. For example, Evelyn in her blog post compared the skels in Zone One to the slaves in Medical Apartheid as both populations were not asked consent from before getting experimented on. However, I don’t think anyone from our class has directly felt any common ground with the skels. To point out a specific example, I wonder if anyone thought about how the gypsy skel might have felt when Gary played around with her while she sat frozen in her spot. I can’t speak for others, but I definitely didn’t find myself thinking, “I know how she feels.” Especially on page 284 when “she gobbled up his thumb,” I didn’t exactly feel hungry like I usually do when I watch others eat. I find this thought interesting because it makes me wonder if this is how scientists or doctors felt in relation to the African Americans and Hispanic people that they experimented on. Did they feel so disconnected from the “subjects” that they didn’t even think to wonder how the individuals felt?

As I dwelled on this question more, I realized that I found myself thinking more about how I would fare if I were in Mark Spitz’s or Kaitlyn’s view. I have a few friends who are psychology majors, and they have exposed me to the social psychology of being able to connect with our ingroup more than those of our outgroup. To elaborate on what that means, it means us as individuals from different backgrounds would be able to connect, relate, and understand those who come from similar experiences (our ingroup) than those who don’t (our outgroup). I actually learned today from my friend that compared to someone from an ingroup, we tend to generalize characteristics about those in our outgroup more. Since I’m pretty sure I’m a human being, it made sense that I thought more about Mark Spitz’s and Kaitlyn’s experiences more than I did of the skels’ life. I also realized how much I generalized the characteristics of the skels, by imagining half dead people with exposed skulls and their jaws hanging. I didn’t consider if they felt any pain when shot or if the gypsy skel bit Gary because she was annoyed at how he played with her body. It opened up my mind to realize how I didn’t even think to consider whether skels would be affected emotionally or mentally even in the state that they were in. To bring this back to Evelyn’s blog post, I think we can make another connection between the book and history but with a different perspective. While the skels may parallel the slaves in Apartheid, I think our approach on viewing the skels could parallel the mindset of the experimenters who took advantage of African Americans. Although it may be a disturbing truth to face, I feel like it could be an important point to think about.

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