The Worth of an English Major

It is a few months ago, and I am at a frat party watching a rather riveting game of beer pong (just kidding – they’re all the same), when I am pulled into a conversation with a friend of a friend. He introduces himself and I do the same. Then comes the obvious, “What’s your major?”

“English,” I relay, bracing myself for what is sure to come next.

“Oh.” The guy looks unimpressed. “Hard,” he says, sarcastically widening his eyes for emphasis.

“But…you– you don’t…that’s kind of unfair,” I stumble over my words because I never have a great response to such bold condescension.

This happened to me at a frat party of all places. Is there no place this English major is safe? Continue reading “The Worth of an English Major”

Don’t Judge A Person By Their Name

In The Stone Sky, the people of Syl Anagist who created the stone eaters, or tuners, at the time, gave each stone eater a name ending in the suffix -wha. Once I noticed this, it got me thinking— what rusting reason could there possibly be for labeling a comm’s minorities as such? The only one I can think of is passive segregation, as a silent yet insistently present reminder of what rather than who the stone eaters are. Continue reading “Don’t Judge A Person By Their Name”

The Planet is Fine

“When we say ‘the world has ended,’ it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine.” -The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin

A specialist in tectonics, structural geology, and field mapping, and currently serving as co-chair for the President’s Commission on Sustainability, Dr. Meg Reitz came to speak to our class a few weeks ago, and the idea that stuck with me most from her lecture was what she said about climate change. To paraphrase, she said that geologically speaking, Earth will be fine. Humans are the ones in trouble.

Continue reading “The Planet is Fine”

The Psychological Need to Call Someone “Mom”

I would like to explore Nassun’s relationship with her three most notable parental figures, first providing my own analysis of why Nassun is not able to stop calling her mother “Mama”, even though she had previously resolved to call her Essun. This is following her solemn decision to call her father by his first name as well, except to his face, in order to keep up the facade of the innocent, loving daughter. Continue reading “The Psychological Need to Call Someone “Mom””

Beauty is Pain

By Sarah Bracy, Lauren Ngo, & Jose Romero

The first line of our blog post, “Starting Over After the End of the World” reads, “With pain there is beauty…” and now that we have finished reading The Stone Sky and have learned about Syl Anagist, we realize this line carries a much deeper meaning. We now know that Syl Anagist was built on the pain and suffering of stone eaters (at that time called tuners), who were treated as less than humans because they were created to emulate the Niess people, for whom the people of Syl Anagist had a deep distrust and hate. We were originally led to imagine Syl Anagist as a beautiful utopia, an unattainable ideal that everyone needs to work towards. But Jemisin soon revealed to us that the breathtaking Syl Anagist was only so beautiful because its people gleaned power from Father Earth without a second thought. In The Stone Sky, Hoa says at one point that these Sylanagistines used the magic that came from Father Earth because they believed he had no feelings — in short, they assumed he had no humanity. Continue reading “Beauty is Pain”

The Art of Believably Smiling

I would like to start out with a nod to a post by Sabrina Bramwell entitled “Say Cheese!” There is indeed something quite eerie about the way the Guardians smile all the time and the connotations that accompany this. In fact, I would like to go even further by including one quote from The Fifth Season I find especially intriguing, plausibly in reference to Father Earth. It reads, “There is an art to smiling in a way that others believe. It is always important to include the eyes; otherwise, people will know you hate them.” (Jemisin 5) The way this quote is presented makes me uneasy, and I’m assuming others as well; this is most likely because it implies the subject of the quote must consciously remind himself to smile, as if it is never simply natural. Continue reading “The Art of Believably Smiling”

Our Fabrication of Hate

One of the more plainly metaphorical aspects to Jemisin’s The Stone Sky revealed to us how Sylanagistines created stone eaters and orogenes because they could find no logical reason to hate and discriminate against the Thniess anymore, or the Niess, as they became more commonly known. After studying the Niess for palpable genetic differences from the rest of the world’s population at the time and finding none, the Sylanagistines finally had to face the fact that they no longer had “logical” evidence on which to base their hate, to their disappointment. The creation of stone eaters and orogenes came as a supplement to this. The Sylanagistines purposefully designed them to look like the Niess so they could have a new “species” to hate. Continue reading “Our Fabrication of Hate”

You Are Your Own Person

I believe that one of the most unfair parts of life, considering both reality and the world that resides in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy, is generalization and the misleading, overarching idea that one individual can represent others as long as both parties can be remotely categorized into the same group. In the prologue of The Fifth Season, in reference to who I am assuming is Father Earth and a stone eater (because it does not explicitly say), it says, “She often treats him as though he represents his whole species. He does the same to her.” (The Fifth Season, 6) This line sets the scene quite well for the rest of the trilogy, because it emphasizes a very real and unfortunate phenomenon that is visible in both the way orogenes and other minorities are treated in The Stillness as well as how minorities are sometimes treated in our own society. Continue reading “You Are Your Own Person”

The Connection Between Rocks and Social Justice

In an attempt to begin to answer the ominous question, “Why should people who care about rocks care about social justice?” and vice versa, “Why should people who care about social justice care about rocks?” I propose that we first examine the increase in natural disasters all over the world. We can see how studying tectonic plate movement and other areas of geology may help us to better “forecast” (rather than “predict,” as Dr. Giorgis from the SUNY Geneseo Geology department explained) at-risk areas for natural disasters. These areas are then marked as less desirable to live, and real estate prices plummet, leaving many people stuck in possibly dangerous residences with no way of leaving; anyone who does not have an upper-class socioeconomic status must sell their old house to be able to afford a new one, and who wants to purchase a house that is prone to the devastating effects of earthquakes? Continue reading “The Connection Between Rocks and Social Justice”