Jemisin’s work within “The Fifth Season” is a dedication to the unwritten ideas of countless cultures. Through her world-building, Jemisin is able to repurpose and rewrite existing myths and ideologies into the unique place that is The Stillness. This will be an ongoing series of blog posts that will attempt to bring light to the references and links that Jemisin makes.
The most referenced civilization that Jemisin takes inspiration from is the Māori. Their belief in a primordial parental couple seems to closely resemble the idea of Jemisin’s father and mother earth. The Māori gods, Rangi (sky father) and Papa (earth mother) were once locked in a tight embrace. Within them, lived their children cramped in ignorance and darkness. Their children conspired against them to break them apart.
This tale reminded me of Father Earth’s resentment of those living on his grounds. As we know, “Life had a mother, too. Something terrible happened to Her.” Perhaps the terrible thing was death, maybe estrangement, from the safety and company of Father Earth. Jemisin writes how Father Earth once “did everything he could to facilitate the strange emergence of life on his surface.”, the same way Rangi and Papa held their children enclosed away from threats. The betrayal Father Earth felt from those he protected is the same betrayal felt by the primordial parents after being overrun by their children. Although we don’t explicitly know the reason for Father Earth’s anger, I assume it’s the hurt and angry pushback of a wronged being. The division amongst all living beings within The Stillness is represented by the children of primordial beings, which will be discussed later on.