Core Essay

Throughout this course, my thinking has shifted in different ways. Coming into this course, I was not sure what to expect. I originally thought it was going to be like any other English course, doing regular reading and writing. When we wrote the “Lithosphere Essay”, I thought we would be focusing more on the trilogy and the issues that emerged throughout reading each book. As we progressed through the course, I realized that it was more about our personal development and understanding not only what we think, but also understanding why we think the way we do. Reading through The Broken Earth Trilogy not only made it easier for me to grasp issues like racialization and problems in social structures that people experience every day, but it also allowed me to put myself in the shoes of some of the characters from the book and almost be able to share the emotions of what they were feeling. This course has also enabled me to achieve a deeper understanding of how every individual thinks differently in their own way about whatever the topic or issue may be.

Reading the first book of the trilogy, The Fifth Season, I was exposed to the “use-caste” system as it is referred to in the Stillness. The Stillness is a supercontinent much like what we assume Pangea to be like. The population living on the Stillness keeps their order within this hierarchical caste system where a part of the population; individuals called Orogenes are at the very bottom. Although Orogenes are the most powerful group of individuals on the Stillness; having the ability to control seismic energy and cause catastrophic seismic events all around the world, they have the least amount of freedom, being treated as non-human. From birth, Orogenes are mistreated, being physically and emotionally abused, even by their own families. Several characters in this trilogy experience life-changing events that cause deep personal changes in ways that change how they think and act toward others and even themselves. Most of these events stem from the racialization and manipulation of these Orogenes to use their powers in bad faith. One character in particular named Essun; who is also one of the main characters of this trilogy, experiences several life-altering events. At a very young age, her parents discover she is an Orogene. This causes them to banish her from the family, making her live in a barn isolated from everyone until she is assigned a Guardian named Shaffa and taken away. In the first book, Shaffa says to Essun (who is named Damaya at the time) ” sometimes…the parents of an orogene will try to hide the child. To keep her, untrained and without a Guardian. That always goes badly.” (The Fifth Season, Chapter 2). This quote gives a great example of how Orogenes and non-Orogenes were manipulated into believing that Orogenes have a power that is not safe to the rest of the world and needs to be restricted and controlled by others to keep everyone else safe. This part of the book made me think about how certain groups of individuals experience similar oppression in the real world, where things like social media and news can manipulate people into believing something that isn’t true, causing things like stereotypes and polarization that create a label for certain groups causing issues similar to what takes place throughout the trilogy. Furthermore, one thing I think that has changed about my thinking is that in the book, I understand now that this may have been originally done in good faith to protect the population and the land from a fifth season, but it was taken to extreme levels and not executed properly, creating a stereotype of Orogenes as being dangerous, causing other individuals not to trust or accept them as humans; putting them at the very bottom of their hierarchical social structure, which can be related to events that have happened to oppressed groups throughout history. In the second book of the trilogy, The Obelisk Gate, Nassun who is the daughter of Essun is taken by her father after he kills his son Uche when he discovers that is he an Orogene. While traveling through the Antarctics, Nassums father says to her “They can cure you Nassun. That’s what the stories say.” (The Obelisk Gate, Chapter 7). I believe that this quote shows how everyone including Orogenes like Nassun has been manipulated so much into believing that there is something wrong with them and that they are not able to be normal unless they are “cured”. This quote shows how oppression and racialization can have a massive impact on different groups of people where they truly believe that they are different from what is “normal”. This causes several issues that we experience in the real world where individuals can be once again manipulated into believing things about themselves and others that are not always true.

A character that I can relate to my personal growth and how my thinking has changed is Essun. She went through several different challenges in the trilogy, from being banished from her family and home at a very young age to having her son murdered by her husband. These hard times and challenges are what ultimately shaped her into the individual she was at the end of the trilogy, being more grounded and patient, compared to how she was at the beginning of the trilogy; being fiery and wanting to get things done without caring as much for the repercussions of her actions. I can relate this to my personal experiences. At the beginning of this semester, I was expecting to be able to stay focused on what I needed to do to complete all of my classes and improve on how well I did in the previous semester. I soon realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be, taking classes that were more challenging than I expected. It took me a little time before I understood that I needed to change my approach to get the results that I intended. Just as Essun was faced with hard and seemingly impossible challenges when she was young, I feel as if the beginning of this semester was similar for me. I did not expect my workload to be as intense as it was and I became very stressed, while also experiencing personal issues on top of having a difficult semester. At first, I felt almost hopeless and that nothing that could help me. Throughout this course, I began to notice that I just needed to focus on what was the task at hand and not manipulate myself into thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do what I needed to. Nearing the end of this semester, I feel that even though I still have a heavy workload, I have been able to stay patient and manage my time much better, allowing myself to do better in all my courses.

This course has helped my personal development, giving me a deeper understanding of all things around me. Once I realized that we were developing ourselves in class and not just reading books, writing, and doing assignments on them, I realized the importance of our thinking and how much of a role it plays in our daily lives, and how it can also have an impact on others around us.

Work Cited

“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

The Obelisk Gate” by N.K. Jemisin“The Stone Sky” by N.K. Jemisin

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