“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’” (Genesis).
While I was looking at Greek Mythology for my blog post from a little while ago, I had a thought: are there more religions that could come into play in this series? And I did some thinking and I started centering around the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In The Broken Earth trilogy I think that the moon acts as Jemisins apple of knowledge, or fruit of knowledge as it is referred to in the Bible. The moons leaving represents how man reached for knowledge that they could not handle, and therefore they had to be punished for it.
I had these ideas before I finished The Stone Sky, so after finishing it they have changed because of the new knowledge I have gained. I now think that the “moonstone,” as Hoa calls it, could also function as the fruit of knowledge. It is something that was taken away from the Earth by the Sylangagistine, which makes the Earth mad.
“Now, though, having pronounced us all guilty, the Earth handed out sentences. Here, at least, it was somewhat willing to offer credit for good behavior” (Jemison, The Stone Sky, 335). Now the punishments that Father Earth chooses for the Sylangagistine and the Tuners are far different than God’s punishments for Adam and Eve. Most of the Sylangagistine that we met died in the explosion, and the rest it seems become enslaved by corestones to do the Earth’s bidding. Eve’s punishment after eating the apple is almost equally severe. “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you’”(Genesis). Both punishments are punishments of pain, the afflicted will be forced to be in this pain possibly their entire lives to remember that they have wronged.
The Tuners punishment is far different however. They are turned into Stone Eaters, immortal extensions of the Earth. Their “credit for good behavior” is the fact that they are allowed to live because “it (the Earth) understood that we were tools of others, not actors of our own volition” (Jemison, The Stone Sky, 341). Adams punishment is more complicated than the Tuners, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis). Where the Stone Eaters were punished with life, Adam was punished with death.
The biggest similarity between the stories is the idea of a higher power striking back against humans that have wronged them. Both God and the Earth believe that they need to be punished for trying to reach for knowledge that they should not possess.