The naming of storms has been discussed in a few posts thus far in relation to “female-named” storms perceived as being less threatening and dangerous compared to more “masculine-named” storms. These perceptions are due to the stereotypes created around the gender binary, as Helen mentioned in her post. She states, “As a result, people do not evacuate and there is a higher death rate because of it.”
In society, I believe naming is a crucial indicator of identity. But the questions that I still ask in my head are “Do names serve as a way of proposing an identity or does the identity come first and then the name?”
A dialogue that caught my attention on Page 102 in Zone One reads:
“What’s his name?” he said.
“What do you mean, what’s his name?” Gary said.
“It has to be something.”
“Buffalo doesn’t want the names.”
“His name is Ned the Copy Boy.”
In this specific interaction, the asking of a certain name is seen as a critical and significant detail that Gary overlooks. Gary finds it unimportant but as the pestering continues, not only does he respond with a first name but also with a sort of “nickname” that society and others have labeled him by. In this sense, “Ned” is the name that is given to the person regardless of his identity as “the Copy Boy” is seen as a stigmatized name that is given based UPON Ned’s identity. This interaction is fascinating as one character is intrigued by names while the other does not recognize its importance.
A recent interaction that I had regarding my last name was that it was compared to a White friend of mine’s last name. “I believe your names should be switched; Marolia sounds sort of Italian,” the woman said in a joking matter. A stranger was telling me that my name didn’t fit my physical appearance and therefore, did not fit my racial identity. The funny part is, my White friend didn’t even identify as Italian.
Which sort of racial implications were present when this statement was being made? Does my last name sound “too White?” Or for that matter, not Brown “enough?” Is there a certain category of names that my last name does not fit in?
“Marolia” derives from a town in Gujarat, India called “Maroli.” Although ‘Marolia’ may not sound Indian, I am fully aware of my identity and the etymology behind both my first and last name. My last name was something that was beyond my control, but I have full understanding of it and therefore, can fully embrace it. Names and the act of naming can be a sensitive topic weather it may be due to “living up” to a name, embracing a name, or accepting a name that society has labeled for you.
The personification of storms is intriguing to explore because it truly changes the actions of one desiring to evacuate or not due to their perception of the storm and its strength, all based upon its name. Names carry a heavy burden, as do storms, as lives of people are destroyed by catastrophe. The strength of a name can guide a person to behave or act a certain way but with storms, it does the opposite. Once the storm has been set, the naming of the natural disaster can either steer people away or closer to which extent of protocol they would like to take in order to protect themselves from the storm.