Core Essay

Earlier this semester I was shown “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin, whom I have never heard of before. This is the first book of the “Broken Earth Trilogy” and in my opinion the most confusing of all. The more you go down the ladder of this trilogy the more it ties in with each other. These books slowly unravel real-world concepts, such as racism, discrimination, and catastrophic seismic events. “The Fifth Season” has a true definition to it “an extended winter—lasting at least six months, per Imperial designation—triggered by seismic activity or other large-scale environmental alteration” (Jemisin. 332) Similar to our harsh winters in New York, it feels as though our winters last six months, maybe not as much snow as there once was but the temperature has relevantly stayed cold. In the first book of the trilogy, we are evidently shown there is a hierarchy system diminishing certain groups’ freedom, “freedom means we get to control what we do now. No one else.” (Jemisin. 305). You are not technically free if a higher-up in power controls what you do and how you do it. I like to think Sir Little Baby has a great perspective on the real-world racism as he states, “It’s bigger than black and white, it’s a problem with the whole way of life, it can’t change overnight, but we gotta start somewhere” (The Bigger Picture). This quote points out that the issues at hand are deeply ingrained in the entire way of life and the structures of society. It’s not something that can be easily fixed overnight, but it’s crucial to start somewhere.

This trilogy takes place on a supercontinent called the stillness and in the first lithosphere essay, I expanded my thoughts on past and present America. The marginalization that happened to Japanese Americans during the time of WWII and the present with Muslim Americans and the wars in the Middle East. The main point of my first essay was to show that race is a structural relationship between real-world views to views from the book, as highlighted by the course epigraph from Geraldine Heng. Race is not about how a person acts or speaks but it is rather about how society as a whole views them. In the Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin orogenes get coined “roggas” by the stills which is a discriminatory word. “No one will demote him for anything so trivial as perversion or abuse. Not if his victim is just another orogene.” (Jemisin. 57) This quote from “The Fifth Season” suggests that in the world of the “Broken Earth” trilogy, the mistreatment or abuse of orogenes by others, even in cases of corruption or abuse, is often overlooked or dismissed. It implies that the value and rights of orogenes are diminished, and they are not given the same protections or considerations as others. The quote highlights the systemic discrimination and dehumanization that orogenes face within the society portrayed in the trilogy. I also thought about the idea of needing thick skin to not be affected by these racists. Racism will always be prevalent no matter where you go no matter how you act, and no matter how you look.

As I delved deeper into the trilogy, my thinking somewhat shifted but overall remained similar. The powerful storytelling and thought-provoking themes in the “Broken Earth” trilogy have challenged my perspectives and expanded my understanding of these issues. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the complexity of these topics and how they intersect with one another. I did not go into detail about seismic events in my “Lithosphere essay”. I was majorly focused on the racial discrimination that was prevalent throughout the entire trilogy. Now that I had some time to think and indulge deeper in the trilogy, I find more real-life connections such as Hurricane Katrina. It has been nineteen years since Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans but yet the damages are still very prevalent today. From Sarah Gibbens from the National Geographic, the damage affected “tended to be low income and African American in disproportionate numbers”. Even former President Barrack Obama stated, “What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens.” I am not stating that natural disasters are discriminatory but rather it is the social construct of society that has failed these people of New Orleans, and America.

The trilogy has forced me to confront the ways in which these systems of oppression are deeply ingrained in our society and how they impact individuals at their very core. The core to me is the very end of all, the core is what puts everything into place. It has made me more aware of the subtle ways in which these systems operate and the profound effects they have on people’s lives. The sameness and difference in my thinking do matter. While there may be some continuity in my understanding, the evolution of my thinking signifies growth and a deeper engagement with the themes presented in the trilogy. It shows that I am actively learning and questioning the world around me. Whether it be a fictional world or the world we live in today, I currently see myself diving deeper in the bigger matter of it all. To support my claims and insights, I can provide specific examples from the text. For instance, the character of Essun in “The Fifth Season” undergoes a transformative journey that challenges societal norms and explores the complexities of identity and power. Her experiences shed light on how racialization and class distinctions shape her world. “I don’t want you to fix it,” Alabaster says. “It was collateral damage, but Yumenes got what it deserved. No, what I want you to do, my Damaya, my Syenite, my Essun, is make it worse.” (Jemisin. 324) Alabaster expresses a desire for Essun, whom he refers to as Damaya and Syenite as well, to amplify the situation and make it even more severe. This quote showcases Alabaster’s anger and frustration with the injustices of the world they inhabit. It also reflects his belief in the power of causing disruption and chaos as a means of bringing attention to and challenging the oppressive systems in place. Overall, my journey of understanding has been shaped by the powerful storytelling and thought-provoking themes of the “Broken Earth” trilogy. It has prompted me to critically examine the systems of oppression in our own world and strive for a more inclusive and equitable society.

Hurricane Katrina facts and information (

“The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby