Notice by Name: Order and Disorder in Zulus

Percival Everett’s Zulus makes use of alphabetical methods of organization, especially labeling, extensively. One example would be that the chapters are abecedarian instead of chronological by number. A second example is in the use of names and its function in Zulus. Names function in society as a label because it identifies a person and allows people to pinpoint a specific individual. For example, if I wanted to get my friend’s attention in a crowd, all I need to do is yell out their name. Names hold importance because they are often the primary means of identifying someone; if I wanted to file a police report on someone, I would need their name to do that. This is also shown in Zulus: after returning to the city, Alice could only work after she obtained a new identity through the means of a new name. Names therefore allow society to maintain a sense of order because it’s a universal way of identifying people. It is then perhaps interesting that, despite their association with organization, we see names and labels repeatedly being changed and reflecting disorder in Zulus.

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Power of Sight

In the Fall 2017 ENGL 431: Octavia Butler class I took with Dr. Beth, we discussed the implications behind sight and seeing. We talked about how sight ties in very closely with the theme of consent; looking at something or someone without explicit consent, such as looking at another person’s diary, is wrong. We also discussed how sight can determine power dynamics; there is a power dynamic at play in situations where the one being seen is unable to prevent others from seeing them. I’m seeing similarities between what I learned back then and the concepts we’ve discussed in class so far.

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More Than Just Myself

Because I’m a small picture type of person, I tend to break statements, concepts, or facts down in an effort to better understand them. Thus, when I read the course epigraph, I broke it down into 2 parts: “job is to notice” and “to notice that you can notice.” Interestingly enough, after analyzing each part and trying to make connections to our readings or discussions, I found that the interpretation of the epigraph changes depending on which text you associate with it.

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The Implications of “it”

Just to continue the discussion about gender pronouns (kinda):

Back when I was looking for evidence for my blog post about empathy, I stumbled across two sections.

“(Nikanj) had no same-sex children, and that was a real deprivation” (428).


“(Dichaan) lay down again to comfort Nikanj and was not surprised to find that the ooloi needed comfort….It was to lose a year of Akin’s childhood. In its home with its large family all around, it felt alone and tired” (429).

When I read it, or, more accurately, reread it, I immediately thought Oh.

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Sometimes This, Sometimes That

Two classes back or so, we discussed what bothered us about Dawn. What bothered me about Dawn was Nikanj.

I initially liked Nikanj. I felt that, out of the other Oankali, Nikanj respected Lilith as a human being the most. When speaking of altering Lilith’s brain chemistry to help her speak the Onankali language, Nikanj states that it thinks “surprising people” is wrong because it’s like, “Treating (people) as though they aren’t people, as though they aren’t intelligent” (79). Nikanj was ordered by Kahguyaht to “surprise” Lilith—to change her brain chemistry without her consent. The fact that Nikanj realizes this is wrong and decides to tell Lilith made me very happy. I feel that Nikanj, by deciding to tell Lilith, displays a level of respect for her as an individual and treats her as another being as opposed to a research subject. Another instance of this is the conversation about Lilith’s injuries from Paul Tidus: Nikanj questions whether Lilith “need(ed)” to be told information concerning her, and promises to remember that she does need and want to be told (100). Nikanj, through words and gestures, shows that it believes Lilith’s opinion, her consent, is important. I loved that.

Then, of course, the ending ruined everything.

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“P.O.W: Prisoner(s) of War”


  1. “Prisoner(s) of War”
  2. The title of the second section

     As I was reading Clay’s Ark, I wondered how much control the infected individuals had over themselves. Blake, in his analysis of the organism in Meda, feels that the organism, “Had left her no longer human” (498). This contrasts with Eli who continues to eat cooked food because he feels it’s a “human thing” he can cling on (515). Blake believes the organism takes away one’s entire humanity; Eli believes he still has some control/self autonomy.

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