Themes of Dependency and Power Structure

I am beginning to see the parallels that Jemisin is trying to draw between the real world and the literary world. The demonstration of power structure and divisions among races is something that the book is doing a great job showing. The co-dependency of the Orogenes and the Guardians is something that I would definitely like her to expand upon as I progress through the book to get a better grasp on the outside message that she is attempting to display.

I find it interesting that the people of Yumenes are able to ostracize and reject Orogenes despite needing their skills to survive. It becomes clear after chapter 8, when Alabaster reveals the truth about Orogenes to Syenite, that the people of Yumenes rely on the Orogenes to quell shakes no matter what cost the Orogene will face. The node maintainers are an example of slavery in the most brutal form. They are literally worked to death and made to endure excessive physical strain in order to quell shakes from near by plates. Based on the powers of the node maintainers, and all Orogenes, that others do not have, I would usually assume that they would be in control of the world or recognized as superheroes. Unfortunately, they are treated as strictly workers and when not employed, monsters. This is a point that I think about when considering inequality and systematic oppression in the real world. How do they relate to ability and dependence?

It is mentioned that every Orogene needs a Guardian to make sure that they don’t create disaster due to their “lack of self-control.” Schaffa and Damaya are the perfect example of this backwards power dynamic in Yumenes. Although Damaya holds the real power in her ability to move plates under the Earth and ultimately kill whoever she would like, Schaffa imposes his will on her through psychologic and physical abuse. It appears that because Demaya does not want to be considered destructive, she allows Schaffa to control her despite her power over him. This immediately stuck out to me as I raised the question, “if the Orogenes are stronger, why don’t they just break away and do what they wish.” That is a question that is often raised in regards to slavery without the consideration of other factors that may act on the ability to claim freedom, like fear.

While The Fifth Season has many twists and turns that the reader may not expect, a theme that is reoccurring throughout is dependent relationships and power structure. After every character Jemisin introduces, we are presented with a new understanding of the hierarchy that exists. It appears that every character is dependent on another in some way even though their society has conformed them to believe that some lives are more valuable than others.

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