Excavating Old Rock Layers

Something that I couldn’t shake from the back of my mind when reading The Fifth Season was the treatment of Alabaster’s children–otherwise known as the node maintainers.

Learning that they are sedated and used for the ability to quell shakes is disturbing. However, what’s even worse is learning that the affluent stills use these sedated orogenes for their own twisted pleasure. Continue reading “Excavating Old Rock Layers”

Is Hoa a Stone Eater?

We talked a lot about the name “Stone Eater” in the lab on Monday and the informality of the word “stone” in geologic terms. With every couple pages I read, im finding that stone eaters are becoming increasingly more important to the structure of the post apocalyptic world that Jemison creates. I’m wondering if it was a conscious decision to use the less formal term, “stone”  for this pivotal role. The word “stone” has a more medieval connotation than “rock”. The period of time when early humans discovered how to make tools out of rocks is not called “the rock age”, it’s known as the Stone Age. Perhaps Jemison wanted to use the word “stone” because it has a stronger correlation to earlier, more primal humans and the medieval period, which is known for its hierarchies and violence. This would create a parallel between the dynamic of nobles, knights, and serfs, and that of the Fulcrum, Guardians and orogenes. this emphasizes cyclical nature of violence, hierarchies and oppression among human societies.

Although Monday was mostly a day of geology and terminology, we briefly discussed the fact that Hoa eats rocks. It caught me off guard, and was a bit of a spoiler, but it raises the question of whether or not he is a stone eater. He literally eats rocks, wouldn’t that make him a stone eater? This is not the only odd thing about Hoa. When confronted with a wild animal, he manages to turn this animal into stone and break it into pieces. This is a strange ability that does not align with the abilities of orogenes.

Jemison also mentions his oddly shaped teeth during the tense interaction with Yikka at the house. His teeth were described as sharp and diamond like. Diamonds and the hardest rocks, and have the ability to scratch and even break other rocks. It makes sense that Hoa can eat rocks if his teeth are hard enough to pierce and break them. Simultaneously to the discovery that Hoa’s teeth are made of diamonds, Syenite finds that she and Alabaster have been “saved” by a stone eater. Is this a coincidence or is there a connection between the stone eater that Syen and Alabaster know and Hoa, the rock eating child? Are stone-eaters mystical creatures that live in obelisks under bodies of water? Or can they also disguise themselves as strange nomadic children?

I’m only halfway through the novel, so I’m not yet sure if there is a connection between Hoa and this mysterious creature that Syenite finds when attempting to clean the harbor. I’m predicting that some stone eaters, like some orogenes, walk secretly among “humans”, and have the sense to identify one another. Hoa senses that Nassun is an orogene upon meeting her and is able to track her family for weeks. If he can do this, he can surely  identify and track other beings like himself. He, however appears tense when he meets another being like himself at Yikka’s house. Is he hiding from something, and what exactly is he? It will be interesting to learn more about Hoa as the novel progresses. I have a lot of questions about this strange, yet comical character.


Blue Eyes as a Bad Omen

In The Fifth Season, Jemison creates an alternate reality where Father Earth is desperately trying to purge himself of humanity through the use of people with geological powers. Something that I found interesting about this reality is that light blue eyes are a bad omen. Damaya, a young girl who discovers she has these abilities after using them on a classmate who threatened her. Her parents hide her and submit her to the guardians. When she first meets her guardian she reflects that, “she heard of eyes like these, which are called icewhite in stories and stonelore. They’re rare, and always an ill omen.” (29). This is interesting detail for several reasons. First being that today, light eyes—specifically blue eyes– are perceived as desirable. Transforming them into a bad omen defamiliarizes their desirability to the reader. When putting this detail into a historical context, it makes more sense to see blue eyes as a bad omen. Europeans are more likely to have light eyes, and are known for colonizing most of the world. Did the people colonized by Europeans see blue eyes as a bad omen? Blue eyes are also a bad omen when referencing the Holocaust because they were an identifying factor of the aryan race. Hitler viewed light eyes as superior to dark eyes, and many people who did not have this attribute were slaughtered. This leads to me think that Jemison made light eyes an “ill omen” purposefully to shine light on this history. Today, light eyes exist both as an unattainable beauty standard and a painful reminder of colonization for the non-European world.