The ‘Love’ Hormone

The question Stephen asked Rone in Clays Ark was “What is the Chemical composition of Love?” I did some research on Oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love” hormone. Oxytocin acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates social interaction and sexual reproduction. This hormone is released in situations like sexual encounters, breastfeeding, birth, and when we hug or kiss someone we love. When this chemical is released in the brain it allows a person to trust and love another.

When thinking about the chemical composition of the Ina’s saliva that causes attachment and unconditional love of the Human symbionts, it’s easy to assume that oxytocin could have a part in this. The ‘love’ hormone is necessary to human being survival because it bonds not only protection and (in some cases procreation) pairs of people, but also parents and their children. Like human beings use of oxytocin for survival, the vampires need human beings to trust and obey them to survive. Before Wright Continue reading “The ‘Love’ Hormone”

A Cycle of Hate

“You could be inside, living in your own house for years, and still, men with or without badges but always with guns could force you, your family, your neighbors to pack up and move–with or without shoes” (Morrison 9).

When I first began reading Home by Toni Morrison, I was intrigued by this quote immediately. This quote is from chapter 2 of the novel, where Frank Money is planning his escape from the mental institution, but unfortunately he lacks a pair of shoes and is afraid that his barefeet will give him away and indicate a lack of purpose. The quote is profound–it encompasses the tribulations of many minority groups (but specifically African Americans) in a sentence. The line suggests that even men without government power can forcefully remove black men, like Frank, from their homes with or without guns simply because they’re white. What struck me most about the quote and what led me to remember it even when I was close to the end of the novel, was the part of the quote that didn’t surprise me: the dehumanization aspect. These white men with guns force these people to leave with or without shoes, a typically essential article of clothing. Often times nakedness is associated with vulnerability, weakness, and many times a lack of respect. Without shoes, these people are seen as devoid of purpose. They are seen as people who don’t need shoes because they aren’t going anywhere important. They are being dehumanized.

I took a class in high school called Holocaust, Genocide and Breaking Down the Walls of Hate. The class was an elective and catered to a heterogeneous group of students–it was composed of students in different grade levels, students from AP classes and regents classes alike. The class essentially aimed to teach students how to recognize genocide, and one of these ways was to understand how genocide is effectively implemented. One of these essential tools is dehumanization. In order to convince oneself to hate & harm one’s enemy and feel the least remorse possible is to treat this person or group of people as an animal or as less than human.

Frank, who has been oppressed and dehumanized throughout his whole life, is, however, still guilty of these same crimes. Hate is a learned behavior, and Frank has learned it (unfortunately) too well. Towards the end of the novel, as he recounts an experience during the war, the readers come to understand that Frank shoots a young Korean girl when she reaches for his crotch after realizing she was caught looking through the garbage in search of food. Frank, feeling tempted by her, decides to shoot her (133). “How could I let her live after she took me down to a place I didn’t know was in me?” (136). Frank sees the Korean girl as the temptation. He sees her as a reflection of the most disgusting parts of himself–the parts he doesn’t like; he doesn’t see her as human. Instead of stopping himself, he stops her, essentially blaming her for an act to which he could have disagreed and stopped. While Frank Money is clearly the product of a system of racism and oppression, I think there are two questions that beg to be answered: 1) doesn’t Frank killing and dehumanizing this girl make him just as cruel as the people and systems who have hurt him? And finally, 2) how can this cycle of hate be eradicated or at least improved?
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An Ethical Relationship

Octavia Butler’s continual theme of challenged consent seems to run through more than just one of her novels. Readers see it again in Fledgling. However, Butler puts a spin on this one – her characters acknowledge the power and influence that have marred the 21st century understanding of consent.

No mistake, consent is challenged here. We see that right off the bat when Shori first encounters and bites Wright. Her bite has an immediate effect on him, which forces him to do a 180 degree spin from his original position on a no biting policy, in which he responds “Goddammit” (Butler 10) to her biting him, followed by him “jerking his hand away [from her]” (10), clearly illustrating the lack of consent. Looking at this scene, it is quite clear that Shori’s bite is both a surprise, and an unwanted one at that. Promptly soon after, Shori “ducked my head and licked away the blood, licked the wound I had made. He tensed, almost pulling his hand away. Then he stopped, seemed to relax. He let me take his hand between my own” (11). Following that, he tells her “It feels good” (11). He responds “Do I?” to her answer, and then “squeezed past the division between the seats to my side of the car, and put me [Shori] on his lap” (11).

So, there’s a lot going on in this scene – but there are two things to focus on: whether or not this relationship is consensual, and whether it can ever truly be consensual hereafter, and the questioning of the possible taking advantage of someone who may be a minor. This post will focus on the former, and then revisit the latter in another post later on.

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Testing Conventions about Vampires

They’re alluring, persuasive, seductive, and sexual. Or are they? These are just a few of the terms associated with vampires. Other conventions surrounding vampires include that they are undead, immortal, they bite others and drink their blood. Yet, these conceptions aren’t true for every vampire. I have read and seen numerous variations on these creatures. My favorite book series is The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare ; the main  characters include shadowhunters (half-human and half-angel), fairies, werewolves, mundanes, and vampires.

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The Mysterious “Zoot Suit” Man

One element of Toni Morrison’s Home that I found particularly interesting was the appearance of the zoot suit-wearing ghost-like figure seen by Frank throughout the novel. This mysterious man appears to Cee as well, after Frank has brought her along to provide a proper burial of the bones of a man who had been forced to fight his son to the death, solely for the entertainment of a white crowd. Morrison seems to emphasize the importance of a proper burial for transitioning to an afterlife, and the timing of the ghost-like figure’s appearance at Frank and Cee’s burial seems to be a representation of this proper transition.

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What does it mean to be “healed?”

As I was reading the end of Home, I came across the quote that I knew I would pick as the one that meant the most to me from the novel. The quote struck me because it not only has a lot of significance to the book, but also to the overall topics that we are discussing in class. The quote I chose was a popular one; several other people also chose it (or at least a part of it) and I think that goes to show just how significant it is.
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Home Remedies

Many families have their own types of ways to heal any sick person that enters their house. From grandmas special soup, to the poultice that your great-great-great grandmother made that is sure to cure a fever. In some communities that are so close that when someone that everybody knows is desperately sick or in trouble, the neighbors band together to help out. In Modern time, it isn’t as common for someone with a serious illness to stay home and not go to professional help; but pre-1970s,  African Americans sometimes did not have the option to go to a hospital for serious ailments, and had to rely on the medicines used by their ancestors. Even if they did go to the hospital designated for African Americans, since there was the common practice of racial desegregation in hospitals up to the 20th century, the care there was of low quality and subpar (Hospitals). This is no different than what happened in Home when Frank brought his sister Cee back after rescuing her from the Doctor that caused her. What happened to Cee was caused by a doctor, and even if they took her to a hospital, she was African and they were unlikely to admit her to their care, and try to cure her.

In this case, Cee was in need of the women of the small town of Lotus to heal her from the experimental damage caused to her by her boss, because Cee thought that what he was doing was great work and saw no harm in it being done to her. ‘And they knew how to repair what an educated bandit doctor had plundered’ (page 129, Home). The methods they had to heal Cee back to her somewhat former glory, was unorthodox, and for modern times they would seem like hogwash, but they worked to heal Cee, with the unfortunate side effect of her never being able to have kids. The crux of the matter here though, is that the doctor, who was educated and helped so many others, had experimented on Cee, with her approval, and almost killed her. But these women who watched her grow up, banded together to heal her of this sickness that was threatening her. Without any medical training, such as Dr. Beau had, they healed Cee and now she can live and learn from her mistakes.

Better Kept A Secret?

As my first blog post, I want to write about the question that Dr. McCoy asked us to think about after this week’s class. In Home, by Toni Morrison, during Frank Money’s time in North Korea, we were left with the mysterious question as to who shot the Korean child and why? Throughout the book, Morrison slowly reveals who Frank is as a person, and allowing the reader to come up with their own conclusions.

Before Frank went to war, he had negative feelings towards his hometown, Lotus, Georgia. Frank was curious of the unknown, and wanted more out of his life. He felt he would be able to fill in those gaps, by leaving town and joining the army. Although Frank was able to experience new things, it came at cost of losing his self-identity. At first Frank lies to the narrator about who killed the little Korean girl, blaming the murder on a guard. It was not until later in the book, when the truth of who shot the child was finally revealed. Sadly, it was Frank.

Throughout the book, as the reader we have noticed Morrison’s deliberate attempt at brevity. Allowing us to organize our thoughts and interpret the story for ourselves. Particularly about the shooting of the little Korean girl, which was inspired by Frank’s illicit sexual desire to the child. There could have been so much more Frank could have said about this. So why did he do it? After Frank confesses to killing the little girl, I believe it is because he was afraid of the possibility of what he is capable of doing. Thus, in order to prevent himself from ever acting on those desires, he eliminates it completely out of his life. It also saddens me to look at the situation through the little girl’s perspective. The fact that she was willing to give up her body, at such young age, in order to survive, tells us a lot about how she was raised. After returning to the USA, Frank carries this shame and it affects his relationship with his sister, Cee.

 

 

Here Stands A Man

In Tony Morrison’s Home, he creates a connection in the beginning of his book to the end of his book. In the beginning of the book Morrison writes, “They were so beautiful. So brutal. And they stood like men.” (Pg. 5). This was in reference to the horses that Frank spotted after him and his sister Cee witnessed the burial of a man. Morrison later on connects that quote by writing, “Here Stands A Man.” (Pg 145). This was in reference to Frank and Cee reburying the body of the man from the start of the book. I found this quote to be ironic because the man they buried is clearly not standing for he is dead. The simile made in the beginning of the novel is symbolic in many ways. Horses are known to be strong, majestic creatures. I decided to do research on the symbolic meaning of claiming a horse as a spirit animal. I discovered that a horse is symbolic for war, service to others, fertility, and power of mind, body and spirit. Each of these symbols are reoccurring themes that are presented in the book Home.

 

War is represented in that Frank served in the army and fought in the war. During the war Frank felt as if he was alive.

 

Service to others was present in that Frank has witnessed various deaths of his friends in war, such as his friend Mike and Stuff. When Frank discovered that Cee was in danger, he feared that he would not be able to save Cee as well. Frank was the saving grace in Cee’s childhood. He loved and protected her when all the adults were either too busy or too bitter to care. But he protected her so well that she never learned to take care of herself.

 

Fertility was evident after Cee being unable to bare a child. Although it is the opposite of being fertile, this part in the book was critical in further developing Cee’s character. Cee had to come to terms with being unable to get pregnant. She later picked up making quilts. Frank convinces Cee to use her first quilt in aiding in the burial of the unnamed man. I interpreted them burying Cee’s first quilt as putting the past behind them and beginning a new life.

 

Power of mind, body and spirit was distinguished through Frank’s PTSD. In the book Frank is faced with the difficult decision of letting a little Korean girl live with the pain of being mentally and physically abused or killing her. Frank chose to kill her because not only is it saving her from the traumatizing experience, it is saving Frank from having to live with the guilt. The story of the Korean girl was never mentioned in the book after the first time it was brought up, and I believe this is because it is triggering to Frank and due to his PTSD he attempts to repress this memory.