Core Essay

You never know what you are going to get with a Professor Beth McCoy English class. I walked into English 111 ready to read about an author I had heard little to nothing about like many of my other English courses. Then McCoy threw us a curveball. We had to learn about seismology and geoscience, in an English course. 

Throughout the semester we would have little nudges back to seismology and  geoscience, whether that was playing with a slinky, learning about p waves and s waves and how they interact with Earth, to our first essay having the title of lithosphere. It was through these mini lessons and research that we came across this really cool fact about the Earth. Our class learned that humans have no physical data from the core, all the information we have learned about the core is from seismic waves passing through the Earth. This information gave us a basic understanding of the Earth and how Earthquakes related information to humans about the Earth’s intricate internal structures.

For the Lithosphere essay, I did not have an end goal in mind for this course as we are supposed to follow this course piece by piece and spend time slowing down thinkING and looking back on what we have learned. At the time I decided to focus on Orogeny in N.K Jemison’s Broken Earth Trilogy, and how it is used to discriminate against Orogenes as they have such tremendous power. Jemison has a glossary in the back of her books and describes that Orogeny is “The ability to manipulate thermal, kinetic, and related forms of energy to address seismic events.” These orogene’s have the power to control the inner machinations of the Earth’s lithosphere manipulating energy beneath the surface. This allowed us readers to recall and connect back to the previous science lessons we learned at the beginning of semester connecting real life seismology to a fictionalized depiction. Jemison did incredible amounts of research on geology and seismology just for accuracy of the real life scientific principles in the world she was creating. Dr. Scott Giorgis, Professor and Chair of Geneseo’s Department of Geology, someone who knows way more about geology than the average citizen, preached about the scientific accuracy of this novel, and he knows what he’s talking about.

 I needed to find a way to connect my lithosphere essay to my final Core essay, then I had an epiphany. I decided to look at this course as a mirror to the Earth itself. If we look at this course as a mirror of the Earth, we started at the lithosphere and we dug and dug into the Earth surface but we weren’t able to get to the core, where all the best knowledge is held. We needed to patiently wait and observe.  As we slowly thought through and waited, earthquakes caused seismic energy to pass through the core revealing important information to us because we spent so much time working and being patient.  This idea can be used as a reflection of the ending of The Broken Earth Trilogy. Hoa being the narrator, I would argue is the Core component of this story. If we knew Hoa was the narrator of this story the whole time It would not have had as much meaning. But since we saw Hoa’s journey through Essun’s perspective, we learned that he always had a soft spot for Essun because of her caring nature. In the first book of the trilogy The Fifth Season, Essun, known as Cyanite at that given moment, unintentionally had reached her Orogeny into an Obelisk, which are known to enhance Orogenic abilities, creating a seismic event that saved her life. It was in this moment, a figure known as a stone eater was trapped inside this obelisk. This stone eater turned out to be Hoa, who had been imprisoned in an obelisk for thousands of years enduring immense suffering and isolation. When Essun reached her Orogeny into the she asked this being, who she did not know was hoa at this given moment if he was okay.

This little moment of Essun’s care and empathy had a seismic-like effect on this story. This little interaction between Hoa and Essun, led to Hoa dedicating his journey to protecting Essun. Through this journey, we grew so close to these characters over the course of these books, we saw these characters develop. These little yet important layers of Hoa and Essun’s intricate identity, were very important to look back on after the finishing of this trilogy. These layers of identity and connection are like the layers of the lithosphere and reveal to us a deeper understanding of these characters and their motivations. Similar to seismic waves passing through the Earth to reveal hidden truths about the core, moments of care and empathy between Essun’s and Hoa’s can only be learned after the reader shows patience and spends time waiting and carefully observing and unlocking the mysteries that shaped these characters’ experiences and actions.

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