Power of Lore

After watching a part of the “1933 Master’s Race” episode of People’s Century, I became increasingly aware of the parallel between the propaganda of Nazi Germany and the stonelore of The Broken Earth trilogy.

In order to make sure the entirety of German society was able to receive Hitler’s rhetoric, the Nazi regime mass-distributed cheap radios for the population to use. After Hitler came to power in 1933, the radios were used to circulate his speeches to households and businesses alike, regardless of class. By promoting Nazi policy in an eloquent and passionate manner, these speeches acted as propaganda that gave German people confidence and pride in their heritage, leaving them waiting for the next speech. At the same time, this propaganda united German society by drawing on the old hatred and jealousy towards Jewish people that stemmed from Jewish people’s superior ability in literacy, theatre, science, etc. compared to that of the Germans and Austrians. According to People’s Century, the Nazis even made up myths that pureblood Germans had advanced and elite ancestors, even going as far as digging up bogus relics to “prove” it.

Similarly, stonelore acts as propaganda created by the stills to be used against the orogenes in The Broken Earth trilogy. In The Fifth Season, Jemisin uses Syenite to explain that both orogenes and stills hold the tablets true to their word because “It’s all that’s allowed humankind to survive through Fifth Season after Fifth Season, as they huddle together while the world turns dark and cold” (125) for as long as they can remember. Even though stonelore does the bare minimum to unite humanity together, Alabaster reveals that the stone tablets are “bogus relics” in that it “changes all the time…[and] parts that don’t matter to the people of the time are forgotten…[because] someone, somewhere back in time, decided that it wasn’t important or was wrong…Or maybe they even deliberately tried to obliterate it” (124-125). The stills have long since considered themselves “of good and wholesome lineage” while the “Orogenically Afflicted” are “held and regarded as an inferior and dependent species” (The Obelisk Gate 258) in order to compensate for their lack of power. By viewing orogenic ability as a disease that transforms them into monsters of the earth, the stills are able to convince themselves that they are the sole survivors of humanity and therefore their worth is superior to that of an orogene’s.

Since the start of The Obelisk Gate, the narrative of the books get even more confusing as Hoa interjects more often in all the chapters. In combination with this reflection on the purpose and importance of stonelore, Hoa’s parts make me wonder if the trilogy as a whole can count as stonelore that is “written” by Hoa. This lore seems to be catered specifically to Essun as “much of [Nassun’s chapters are] speculation” since “Another has the task of encompassing Nassun’s existence” (181). Hoa’s personal connection to Essun and the significance of her role in the finale of the trilogy might warrant enough of a cause for Hoa to want her story to go on in history as a legend just as Shemshena and Misalem did. Just as the two legends are never referred to in a first-person account, Hoa purposefully tells the story “in [Essun’s] mind, in [her] voice, telling [her] what to think and know” (280), compelling me to wonder how much we can trust any of these narratives.

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