Core Essay 

Sean Anglim 

When looking back through the course epigraph along with the work I completed throughout this course, it is clear to me that my thinkING has totally been reformed. As I first became involved with the English 111 curriculum, I was honestly not prepared for the various ways my mind and ideals would be reshaped; this caused me to discover a more complex understanding through our course work. When first diving into N.K Jemisin’s work, I will admit that at many times I was struggling through the means of confusion and understanding; it was difficult at first for me to interpret and soak in so much. As we ran through the beautiful and complex Broken Earth Trilogy, all the elements and ideologies used by Jemisin profoundly embellished the themes she focused on within this collection of novels, and it had such a monumental impact on my thinking as I reached the end. 

While examining my reflection throughout my Lithosphere Essay I wrote earlier this semester, I mainly touched on how Jemisin’s combines real world societal constructs such as racialization and oppression with science and myth to create such an impactful first novel. The way Jemisin combines all these themes gives the reader a unique perspective of the real world societal issues Jemisin portrays with this fictional world. In turn, this further develops and changes the reader’s views and ideologies of what racism and oppression look like within a society; this society Jemisin creates on paper basically masking ours(on a structural standpoint at least). She deeply ingrains racialization and inequality into the world of the Stillness through the use of “orogenes”, who are long discriminated against because of the seismic powers they are born with. Staying on the topic of my Lithosphere Essay, I kept on pointing back to the idea of the Fulcrum, a sort of jail or camp where these orogene peoples would be sent at an early age if their powers were discovered. I mainly focused on this idea of the Fulcrum because it was such a large reason that racialization and oppression were so deeply rooted within this society Jemisin creates for us. I referred back to what these orogenes would be forcibly taught and convinced by higher ups in the Fulcrum throughout their upbringing; how what they learned in the Fulcrum followed them for the rest of their lives. “Friends do not exist. The Fulcrum is not a school. Grits are not children. Orogenes are not people. Weapons have no need for friends (Jemisin, pg 297).” Being told this about you and your people is detrimental to a young mind. When you are convinced by society at such a young age that you are a “weapon” and a “tool” only, you have no choice but to believe it.  

When I put together my Lithosphere Essay, I was honestly a little confused with the overall plot and storyline of The Fifth Season. Jemisin left so many open ended questions and lingering mysteries that caused my mind to not fully interpret certain themes that would come to be essential later on as the course moved along. As I progressed through these three books, I no longer was in this state of subtle confusion; everything and every character Jemisin includes in this series has a reason. I was able to look back to the course epigraph, having a much clearer understanding of Jemisin’s use of theme. Her emphatic use of racialization throughout the next two novels gave me a new interpretation and viewpoint on the meaning and definition of this construct. I started to slow down my reading after I finished the Fifth Season, and this caused me to grasp and catch so much of what Jemisin underlyingly slips in throughout this series. While in reflection, I went back to the course epigraph and realized that I did not fully conceptualize what I believed racialization looked like while writing this earlier in the course. When looking back to how I was thinkING, the term “race” was something I believe I fully understood, which in result caused me to kind of overlook the course epigraph. The course epigraph states “a name we retain for the strategic, epistemological, and political commitments it recognizes—attached to a repeating tendency, of the gravest import, to demarcate human beings through differences among humans that are selectively essentialized as absolute and fundamental, in order to distribute positions and powers differentially to human groups”(Heng 27). The strategic and hierarchical concepts of racism were ideas I realize I couldn’t grasp on a wide scale before this trilogy, as I only had the viewpoint of being a majoritarian white male in society.Now, after reading the trilogy, I see how this term is much deeper and more complex than I once thought. From my perspective in our society, it is hard to grasp and interpret racialization as I have never experienced it. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes does not exemplify what this term truly means on a deeper level. With the perspectives Jemisin gives us throughout these books, I now have more of an understanding of what it is like to be racialized and oppressed; to be kept down by all of society in every way, to be hated and even killed simply because you’re being yourself. Hiding who you truly are so you aren’t hunted down and killed is real, and is something that I really could not grasp previously. I really found my thinkING adapting and evolving as we progressed through N.K Jemisins work. The more we delved into Jemisins work, the more developed my idea of racialization got. The course description states that this class is meant to provide us with a better understanding through “the ways in which systems of power lead to different outcomes for members of diverse groups “, and I would definitely say that has held true to my epistemology on this matter. Seeing racial inequality through alternative perspectives made me much better conceptualize discrimination as a whole, and the underlying themes N.K Jemisin focuses on; such excruciating and deeply ingrained inequality that many in our society have not experienced first hand(myself included), but is ever-so prevalent.

The more I traveled through Jemisins work, the more I was able to appreciate her use of various themes. Her use of racial constructs along with such meaningful dialogue between characters absolutely shot over my expectations before diving into this course. When we were introduced to the Broken Earth Trilogy, I was honestly confused through the means of how a science fiction trilogy could change the way I thought about and conceptualized real world ideologies and problems. This is like no other set of novels that I have ever read, as the combination of science, myth, and important real world issues are what reeled me in as I read. The dialogue between characters was just so impactful, and Jemisins work has such deeper meaning than what I expected before starting The Fifth Season. “…being useful to others is not the same thing as being equal”(The Stone Sky). The way Jemisin constructed the society of the Stillness to resonate so closely with ours just makes this so much more eye-opening, with 

. What resonated with me the most throughout these writings was the beautiful dialogue from character to character, and the relationships between certain characters. These relationships were so meaningful and relatable in our society, it honestly changed my view on relationships in my own life. Seeing Nassun and Jija’s relationship unfold is what impacted me monumentally; doing everything in your power to change who your own daughter really is would before seem unimaginable to me, but Jemisin really opened my eyes and made me think deeper. Nassun could have done anything, but the only thing that would make her father accept her was to change what really made her Nassun. Reflecting for the final time over our course epigraph, my understanding of societal systems of power has really been reevaluated from Jemisins work. Seeing the imbalance of power throughout the world Jemisin creates made me think about our systematic structure, and truly how neglectful it is towards so many marginalized groups. All my life I have had a broad view of what society is really like, as I come from a small town and now live on a close-knit college campus; it was always difficult for me to grasp  how the systematic structure of our society causes so many people to be scrutinized and see little to no opportunity for success. Jemisin has given me a clearer idea of how structural inequality can affect a person, and a whole group of people; and how devastatingly cruel the world can be. 

Now that this course is behind me, I have really gone through such a considerable amount of growth in so many areas from our past assignments. I have developed such a better understanding through a variety of concepts, and have seen my communication skills vastly improve from our group collaborations. I hate to say it, but I initially came into English 111 for credit purposes, but I am so grateful that I was able to participate in this course and improve my skills through this curriculum with my classmates. N.K Jemisins work has given me such a deeper understanding of complex themes and relationships, and I can say without a doubt that through this trilogy and coursework I have learned so much.