“You speak like a little lady and your skin be smooth”: Blood and Bodily Purity in Orleans (Abbie J and Sarah L)

The society presented in Sherri Smith’s Orleans is not emphatically divided by race, class, or gender. Unlike other YA dystopian protagonists (such as Katniss Everdeen or Pressia Belze), Fen de la Guerre does not live in a culture of Have and Have Not. Instead, the ruins of New Orleans are divided among blood tribes, and blood has come to signify all aspects of life: currency, religion, safety and social standing. In this respect, while blood does not simply represent one modern-day social division, the overarching theme of purity can be seen in Orleans’ constructions of the meaning of blood, and female sexuality.

The post-apocalyptic society of Orleans, closely links the desirability of pure blood and the historical value of sexual purity. Blood purity is considered both a privileged and vulnerable position. The idea of blood purity, which individuals cannot influence, being the highest marker of value draws attention to constructions of value and purity. For example, when considering Enola, Fen says, “Baby Girl brand-new. Cleanest blood there is. She ain’t got the Fever in her yet, and won’t if I be careful” (Smith 61). The value of blood purity is further emphasized when hunters appraise Enola, saying, “Fresh blood. Maybe not even the Delta taint. We can sell that for twice the price.” (119). Enola’s purity is heightened by her newborn status, but Fen notes that as a child herself, she was made aware of the consequences of blood status.  When blood hunters attacked her family, she reflects that they “Almost took me, too, but Daddy knew what they do to little girls like me on blood farms.” (62). Fen’s use of “little girls” and not “little kids” indicates the interchangeability of girlhood, purity, and innocence in her society.  Blood status and autonomy are also closely linked in Fen and Enola’s experiences in Orleans, because Fen’s O-Positive status places her at a constant risk of being captured and harvested for her blood. The violation involved in this experience serves to dehumanize her in an animalistic way. When captured and taken to a “blood farm”, the hunter Orvis says “Once you fatten ‘em up, who knows how much [blood] they’ll pump”, and his partner Maylene responds, “Stable ‘em and feed ‘em.” (123).

In The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti argues that there is an “inextricable relationship between sexual purity and women” (21). Western society has historically viewed purity as one of the most important aspects of the female identity, representing her commitment to her (future) husband, and her moral character. Over time, the desecration of purity has come to include many “risky” behaviour made by (often, young) women including sex, body modification, and drug or alcohol use. It is important to note that girlhood is indistinguishably linked to the idea of purity because girls are often viewed as too young to engage in “inappropriate behaviour”, and are deemed to be “innocent”, and at risk of losing their purity.

In this new world of disease and contamination, importance is still found in sexual purity, however there is more emphasis in literal cleanliness of blood due to it’s rarity and it’s role as a currency in the walled society. While the construct of virginity implies a decreased female value after pre-marital sex, the concept of bodily purity in Orleans decrees that a person’s value decreases significantly after being pierced by a needle. Fen is familiar with the value of those who are “untouched” because of her experience being bought and sold by Mama Gentille as a child. She remembers her discomfort at Mama Gentille’s fascination with her immaculate skin, “I pull my arm away, but she hold on tight… we both stare at the inside of my wrist… Mama run a hand down my arm…’You’ve not had it as bad as the rest… You speak like a little lady and your skin be smooth’” (Smith 91). When Fen discloses to Mama Gentille that she knows her blood type, Mama slaps her across the face because this could decrease her value to a buyer.

In addition, Fen’s buyer’s reaction when faced with the prospect of clean blood is reminiscent of the past and present fetishization of virginity. Fen describes, “he be spreading my legs, and I clamp them shut but he force them wide and run his hands along my knees and thighs and over the insides of my arms. ‘Clean,’ he say to himself. ‘Clean, like she said’” (96). The inextricable nature of sex and blood is furthered by the ambiguous language used between Fen and Alice, when Alice says, “ She ain’t wanting you to be used up on one of the boys here. She got something special in mind for you.”(94). The idea of being “used up” is often associated with female virtue, and Alice’s vagueness connects to the notion of virginity as a tangible object that once given or taken, is gone forever. In Fen’s world of blood hunters, blood farms and the everyday sale of blood, a person can literally be used up. Lines such as “He used me up and I ran away” (105), can be interpreted through the lens of scholar Sara Day, who highlights the recurring connection in popular culture between blood and female sexuality, which together involve, “The power of desire, the act of penetration, and the exchange of bodily fluids” (Day).

Orleans constructs a society which places the “untouched” in a position of vulnerability, and allows for ambiguous notions of purity to blur the lines between sexuality and blood status. Blood farms, rape and tribal violence invoke ideas of bodily violation and autonomy, prompting readers to examine the “blurred lines” between Fen’s experiences as a blood donor, a rape victim and as a young girl who was once deemed as “clean”, pure”, and “desirable”. Fen’s survival in Orleans relies on understanding her past abuse, her knowledge of her own value, and a desire to shield the baby Enola from a similar fate.

Works Cited

Day, Sara K. “Pure Passion: The Twilight Saga, ‘Abstinence Porn,’ and Adolescent Women’s Fan Fiction.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 1, 2014.

Smith, Sherri. Orleans. Speak, 2013.

Valenti, Jessica. The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women, Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2010.


Questions

  1. Is there is any religious significance (e.g. Christianity) in the emphasis of blood and purity in this novel? What would a religious connection imply or signify to readers?
  2. Does Enola’s survival contribute to the value of purity in Orleans? As one of the only “pure” characters in the novel, what does her survival (and Fen’s death) say about the value of purity?

 

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13 thoughts on ““You speak like a little lady and your skin be smooth”: Blood and Bodily Purity in Orleans (Abbie J and Sarah L)

  1. Your connection between the sacred construction of virginal purity and having unmarked and unscarred skin is compelling. I agree that both of the ways in which an individual who has never given blood is valued, idolized, and seen as desirable, is akin to the ways in which girls who have not engaged in pre-marital sex are also framed as desirable. When we parallel the value of sexual purity to that of an individual whose blood has never been drawn, we can imagine the routine drawing of blood as similar to sex work girls do when they’ve been trafficked. This relationship can be elucidated if we look back to the chapter when Fen tells of her experiences with Mama Gentille. After Fen is notified that Mama Gentille is sending a man her way, she tells Fen that the gentleman likes her because she is “a virgin, untouched by needle or knife” (Smith 95). Fen’s unmarked body is conceptualized as sacred because her blood has never been drawn. This conception of Fen as immaculate and holy is reminiscent of how the bodies of young, female virgins are constructed in human trafficking. Alike individuals who have never been pricked by a needle, there is a high market demand for young girls in the sex trade because they are seen as the most commodifiable. Young girls are framed as the most valuable because their bodies are the least tainted and therefore offer a supposedly better experience for the customer. As these young girls continue to work in the sex trade, they become less valuable because their bodies are no longer pure, clean or new. Similar to Orleans, this is a long process that is a product of prolonged participated in a activity, whether that be sex work or drawing blood. Fen, however, attempts to speed up this process by wrapping her arms around an unattended hot pot of stew (Smith 98). While the consequence of Fen’s actions are excess scarring and marking of her skin, Mama Gentille attempts to reverse the process and nurse Fen back to help only to put her back to work. Unfortunately, for many girls that are trafficked into the sex trade, the effects of their excess work in the sex trade cannot be undone so easily. Many of these young girls are abandoned, having to suffer the consequences of the work they were coerced to do. While I would say that Fen’s action is a form of resistance, and one that I admire and find very powerful, this opportunity for subversion is often unavailable to young girls who have been trafficked into the sex trade.

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  2. Abbie and Sarah,
    Within your post, you put forth a compelling argument regarding the way in which purity, blood types and female sexuality intersect throughout Smith’s Orleans. Overall, I agree with your argument and the points you use to support it. One issue I would like to discuss, however, presents itself in the first sentence of your post where you state “[t]he society presented in Sherri Smith’s Orleans is not emphatically divided by race, class, or gender.” Because of the way in which the devastation caused by the series of hurricanes affects racial groups differently, however, I respectfully disagree with your assertion here. The fact that the Asian people in the novel, who have some sort of immunity to the fever, do not, as Fen tells us, “like the rest of Orleans” (144) and only mix with one another, proves that the society presented in the novel is very much divided by race. Further, White people being able to leave New Orleans once the hurricanes hit implicitly suggests that there is a class difference operating in the novel. While it is not blatantly discussed in Orleans, Jean Ait Belkhir and Christiane Charlemaine, who analyzed Hurricane Katrina, argue that the people who were able to get out of New Orleans likely had cars, credit cards, emergency funds, insurance policies, and immediate family who they could seek help from (3). Poor Black populations, however, had no such options and where therefore forced to endure further devastation. This class difference, I argue, is replicated in the novel based on the descriptions of the people who remain in New Orleans after the series of hurricanes. More, as you mention in your post, there is an association of pure blood with sexual purity in Orleans. As you discuss, “Valenti argues that there is an ‘inextricable relationship between sexual purity and women.’” In this way, pure blood from young girls is coveted by the blood harvesters in the novel, which suggests that the society Smith creates in Orleans is divided by gender—girls and boys are not treated and valued in the same way.

    Moreover, in response to your second discussion question, I would argue yes, Enola’s survival reinforces the value of purity in Orleans. It does this by allowing the character, who is more valuable in society based on her conformity to the ideals that are espoused (via the Quarantine rules), to continue to live. As a result, Enola’s life emerges as more important than Fen’s. Enola and her purity survive to the end of the novel whereas Fen and her Fever do not, which suggests that to be pure is to be more fit to survive, if you will. Fen’s life is more restricted because of the Fever in her blood, but Enola is much more free. In this way, the value of purity is also reinforced in Orleans. If Enola were to die, because of her purity, it would likely be viewed as a greater loss.

    Overall, within your post, you draw an interesting parallel between the purity of blood types and female sexuality in Orleans. This point is worth discussing, especially in regards to how it affects constructions of girls and girlhood, so I’m glad you focused your attention on this aspect of the novel.

    Works Cited:

    Belkhir, Jean A., and Christiane Charlemaine. “Race, Gender and Class Lessons from Hurricane Katrina.” Race, Gender & Class, vol. 14, no. 1/2, 2007, pp. 120-152.

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    1. Hi Aesha,
      Thank you for disagreeing with our earlier point on the divisions within Orleans’ society. I think you are absolutely correct in saying that Smith has constructed a racial divide within Orleans, which obviously mirrors the lived experiences of those living in New Orleans at the time of Katrina. While the American government in this novel has abandoned low-class Black Americans behind the walls of the quarantine (alongside other historically marginalized groups), similar processes occur systematically throughout American every day. This comparison offers a head-on approach to race relations which is rarely depicted in the whitewashed YA Dystopia genre. In saying that Orleans’ society “is not emphatically divided by race, class, or gender”, I attempted to assert that within the quarantine zone, blood tribes have surpassed any and all other forms of division among social groups. Within the delta, although there are still systematic remnants of the “Before” society, a new hierarchy has usurped the prominence of systems like patriarchy and white supremacy. However, your comment has prompted me to consider the quarantine within the larger context of Orleans’ America, and now I would suggest that the quarantine zone should be considered as only a small part of a larger system of marginalization of the health and safety of Black Americans.

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  3. One of the most shocking lines in this shocking book, for me, was from Father John at the end, when he declares that Enola is “unclean” on page 300. What a horrible word! Not “sick”, or “infected” but unclean, implying a dirtiness or moral impurity that she’ll never be free of. Probably should have guessed at that point that he was evil, but I was still waiting for Mr. Go’s crimes against humanity to become relevant. I think this fits in nicely with your argument about purity, because Enola would not have been “clean” enough to cross had she been the B positive Father John said she was. Another gem from Father John is the unbearably revolting scene where he roots around looking for a needle tiny enough to fit into Enola’s newborn veins. Fen has spent the whole novel being careful not to get Delta water on the baby, or to cry or bleed on her, and as she races back before B positive, unclean Father John can find a needle to pierce her with, you can’t help but feel the terror of another kind of piercing

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  4. Abbie and Sarah,

    I also agree with your argument drawing a connection between blood and sexual purity, however I find that your point is contrary with your assertion in your first paragraph where you contend that “the society presented in Sherri Smith’s Orleans is not emphatically divided by race, class, or gender”. The connection you make between blood purity and the concept of virginity suggests that the system of oppression created by blood types is in fact also linked to gender. The way in which Mama Gentille dresses up Fen in a nightgown in order to have her blood harvested suggests that she seeks to make Fen appear more pure and therefore purposely draws on the concept of feminine purity to make her more appealing as a source of blood. In this way, Fen becomes more vulnerable to blood harvesting because of her traditionally feminine qualities. Gender then creates a divide in the likelihood of being used for blood harvesting in this way.

    It is also interesting how Smith points out that the idea of blood purity is constructed. When Fen reveals that she knows her blood type, Mama Gentille slaps her because it is contrary to her ideal of blood purity. However, Fen’s buyer still idealizes her as pure. Only because Fen appears to have ‘untouched’ skin is he able to have this image of her, despite the truth of the situation, showing that this image is entirely constructed.

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    1. Laura,
      Thank you for pointing out the contrary aspects of Sarah and I’s argument. While yes, we have argued that “traditional feminine qualities” are still fetishized in Orleans, and that there is an obvious connection between girlhood and sexual purity in this novel, I would still argue that there is no forceful, clear division between genders within the quarantine zone. While hegemonic masculinity is still present in Orleans’ society, and presents itself to especially vulnerable populations (such as the young orphan Fen) this construction of femininity seems to be much more about fantasy than enforced gender roles in everyday life. For example, you mention how Mama Gentille dressed Fen up in a nightgown in order to have her appear more “pure”, which aligns with Valenti’s list on ideas of purity, “Virgin sacrifices, popping cherries, white dresses, supposed vaginal tightness, you name it.” (47). However, Fen’s purity is not valued in her society outside this specific context of being a blood slave, with “unpure” women such as Lydia (having a child without a father present) being influential tribe leaders and having seemingly no gender-specific setbacks. Thus, while Fen’s purity is sexualized, you are right in that it is “entirely constructed” as a fantasy in which the man can indulge himself. In this society, constructions of feminine purity exist mainly as fetish material for ABs asserting their power over girls and women, and do not hold much weight for the “average” woman living in a tribe, who must be strong, willing to literally get dirty, and unemotional. However, even I must question my own argument because nothing exists in a vacuum, and perhaps these construction of purity DO carry over in ways that aren’t outright visible to the reader. Altogether, thank you for helping me look deeper at the interconnection of this issue!

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  5. Abbie and Sarah–
    First of all, I just want to say that your use of the phrase ‘blurred lines’ in your last paragraph, “prompting readers to examine the “blurred lines” between Fen’s experiences as a blood donor, a rape victim and as a young girl” is, whether intentional or accidental, is quite fitting and I thoroughly enjoyed this little insert of pop culture. As Robin Thicke says in the controversial song promoting date rape and a misogynistic culture, “now he was close/tried to domesticate you/But you’re an animal/Baby it’s in your nature” (azlyrics.com) actually points to the idea of femininity and animalism that you mentioned in your post, where the blood farms treat their victims as animals, “dehumanizing [Fen] in an animalistic way”. So, whether or not this was an intentional popular culture reference, I wanted to just take a second to notice it and appreciate it for its problematic messages that apply both to this novel and to your post.

    In response to your question, “Is there any religious significance in the emphasis on blood and purity in this novel?”, I would argue that with the emphasis that exists on Christianity, the Ursuline nuns, and religion in general in the society of Orleans, the notion of blood and purity cannot be separated from role that religion plays in this novel. Historically, “New Orleans’ colonial history of French and Spanish settlement has resulted in a strong Catholic tradition” (en.wikipedia.org). Catholicism’s influence can be seen throughout the city and it’s culture, reflected in many “of the city’s French and Spanish cultural traditions, including its many parochial schools, street names, architecture, and festivals” (en.wikipedia.org). Additionally, the New Orleans that we know has a strong affiliation with Voodoo, specifically Louisiana Voodoo, a set of “spiritual folkways that developed from the traditions of the African diaspora” (en.wikipedia.org). This historical context of New Orleans sets the stage for the idea that Orleans in Smith’s post-apocalyptic future follows and devotes itself to religion in similar ways.

    Fen mentions that “only three things be sacred in Orleans” (Smith 68) and “Churches, temples, whatever still be standing that used to have a god–for some reason, folks be respecting that well enough” (69). This implies that while the religious structures and institution might not be as strong or mandated in this post-apocalyptic New Orleans, there still exists the recognition and respect of a God and a religious following. Additionally, the presence of the Ursuline sisters that remains in Orleans is another indicator of a religious institution still existing. As Daniel’s datalink says: “The Ursuline Sisters, overseers of the Ursuline Academy, the oldest Catholic school in the United States. When the Holy See pulled its resources out of the Gulf Coast, the Ursulines were the only sisterhood that remained” (111). Religion then, while perhaps presenting itself differently in Smith’s Orleans than it does in our present day New Orleans, is very much an existing institution.

    In relation to blood, the purity that it denotes, and the religious institution, blood is used in the bible to “metaphorically denote race” (biblestudytools.com). In this context, the religious connotations of blood map perfectly onto “Orleans”. In Smith’s post-apocalyptic world, the notion of racial discrimination and segregation has been replaced by discrimination and segregation based on blood type. Thus, reading the notion of blood through a religious studies perspective, the fact that it stands as a metaphor for race places blood as a stand in for race in “Orleans”, which serves to solidify the ideas that we talked about in class in regards to racial discrimination being replaced by blood discrimination.

    Additionally, blood “is ascribed in Scripture as the mysterious sacredness which belongs to life” (biblestudytools.com) and due to the fact that blood equals life in this society, it is the most sacred currency in Orleans, leading to blood wars, blood farms, blood smugglers, and all nasty forms of blood smuggling. Thus, the religious reading of blood as the “sacredness which belongs to life” allows us to read the role of blood in Smith’s novel holding religious meanings and connotations.

    Lastly, where religion typically deems pre-marital sex as impure, the idea that one’s purity lessens as they are ‘penetrated’ by needles stealing their blood connects to the notion of sexual penetration. This connection can be seen in the part of Fen’s memory where she describes her time at Mama Gentille’s. Describing Mama Gentille’s as a religion in and of itself (97), Mama Gentille appears almost as the leader of a cult. Talking about Fen’s blood, Mama Gentille says that “it be his to do with as he pleases. Bought and paid for” (97) to which Fen responds “I ain’t for sale” (98), however thinking to herself that she knows full well that she “been sold and he has [her]” (98). Treating her as a commodity, solely a physical body, this business that Mama Gentille can be compared to the practice of sex trafficking, as discussed in a previous comment. Fen then goes on to describe her “meeting” with the man, saying that “he strap[ped] [her] wrists and ankles to the bed…rip the white dress down the middle and slide it off [her]…he run his hands over [her] body…when he enter [her], it be through the skin. First a swift wipe of a cold cotton pad, then a needle, sharp and hot, into the biggest vein of my right arm” (96). Here, this narration can be read as a rape narrative, and admittedly, that’s how I read it. However, what sets it apart is the mention of “a needle”, which can slip right past you when reading. This direct comparison between a rape narrative and the needle narrative that exists in “Orleans” connects the notion of sexual purity and blood purity. Where, in our pre-apocalyptic society, religion views sex as conditioners of purity, in this post-apocalyptic society, religion views blood as conditioners of purity. The female virtue of purity and innocence is then still as present and problematic in this post-apocalyptic society, however it’s merely replaced sex for blood, perpetuating the social practice and thought, but just changing the thing that society uses to determine a female’s purity.

    I would like to add an additional point to this exceedingly long post and say just for the record that this notion of blood purity reminds me of ‘Harry Potter’ and the notion of half-bloods versus pure-bloods and how this was the tension that sparked Voldemort into action. Just me?

    Works Cited:

    Smith, Sherri. Orleans. Speak, 2013.

    “Blood”. BibleStudyTools.com. 4 December, 2016. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/blood/

    “Louisiana Voodoo”. Wikipedia.com. 4 December, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Voodoo.

    “New Orleans-Religion.” Wikipedia.com. 4 December, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans#Religion

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  6. I want to address your second question about whether or Enola’s survival contributes to the value of purity in the novel. To echo what others have said, yes absolutely. Fen gives up her life so that Enola can remain “pure” and in connection, free. Fen is determined to give her a better life over the wall, where she will not be infected by the Fever and have every opportunity Fen can afford her. I argue that perhaps we can then connect this to ideal/”pure” motherhood – self sacrificing for your child. As Fen makes the ultimate sacrifice, her death at the end of the novel can then be read as the act of the ultimate Good Mother. Also, connecting this to your first question about religious significance, I’d argue that Fen is both a Mother Mary figure and a Jesus figure, speaking in terms of Christianity. Mary is the sacred virgin Mother of Jesus, who was said to be the Messiah (saviour, liberator). Though Fen did not carry Enola to term, we see that Fen is the only mother Enola will ever know in Orleans, as Lydia dies giving birth. Fen is the first one to feed, cloth, and protect Enola, who in this case then symbolizes a new Christ-like hope for liberation and salvation in Orleans – a life born fever free, signifying the potential that those in Orleans are not entirely lost. However, an argument could also be made that Fen also acts as a Christ figure in that she gives up her life for Enola and by extension Daniel, giving them a chance beyond “eternal damnation” – damnation in this case being trapped behind the wall and never free. This connection to religion only reasserts the idea that purity is valued beyond all else in Orleans, as the potential connections to Christianity rests on narratives of pure of heart mothers and a loving Jesus who saves people from eternal damnation for selfless reasons.

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  7. I agree with your topic that there is an emphasis on blood purity in Orleans, especially in Fen’s flashback to her time with Mama Gentille. When Fen appears to not have had blood taken from her when the man with the black hat approaches her alone in the room, he sees her as a virgin and, thus, purer. Fen knows, however, that she has had blood drawn before (solely for testing it), meaning that she is not as pure as the man believes her to be.

    In regards to your first question, it is unknown who Enola’s father is, so Lydia appears to have immaculately conceived her, marking Enola as a Christ figure; her purity implies religious significance to the ‘cleanness’ of her blood. I also agree with Jess that Fen, however, can also be read as a Christ figure, sacrificing herself for the greater good, to allow Daniel and Enola to escape through the wall, and to allow Enola’s purity to not become tainted by the Fever. Fen becomes the ultimate sacrifice through her developed love for Enola, and some admiration for Daniel, in helping them escape. While the reference to Christianity and Catholicism may seem out of place because there is an emphasis in the novel through Fen’s encounters with Mama Gentille on African voodoo practices, it is not; the Ursuline nuns first settled in New Orleans establishing a church practicing Catholicism, a Christian denomination. Enola’s survival, as well as Daniel’s, says that blood purity is at the top of the blood hierarchy within the Delta, being placed even above Fen’s life.

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  8. You assert a very compelling argument. I can see further connections between blood purity and sexual purity through your Sara Day quote that blood and female sexuality is about “[t]he power of desire, the act of penetration, and the exchange of bodily fluids” (Day). The use of needles to extract blood and said needles opening one up to the potential for infections is really interesting to me when thinking about blood status and female sexuality. Heterosexual sex is framed as penetration and the ‘first time’ is framed as ‘popping a cherry’. Both the process of blood farming and (heterosexual) intercourse revolve around penetration and blood or fluids. I see these similarities as central to purity myths since it is that act of penetration and exchanging of fluids that places one as ‘dirty’ or no longer pure. Something you did not touch upon in your post is menstruation. I am curious how menstruation fits into the discussion of blood purity and sexual purity. Menstruation was and is still seen today as unclean and embarrassing. From what I recall the novel never discusses how menstruation is dealt with but I assume that it would place women in a vulnerable position since there is blood being lost. There are ways to protect ones self from blood being taken from your veins (the scar tissue Fen has for example) but stopping menstruation is more complicated and with limited medical supplies or facilities any tool which could stop menstruation would not be readily accessible.

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    1. Meagan, I found your comment very interesting. I completely agreed with the connection between blood purity and sexual purity in this post, but had never even considered the idea of menstruation. Menstruation is so closely related to femininity, and the transition from girlhood to womanhood. It seems to fit well with the novel’s idea of clean and unclean, conflicting with the idea of girlhood. In this sense, does it mean that girls are innocent and pure, as they have not often begun menstruating? What does this say then about femininity if one of the integral parts of becoming a woman is seen as unclean? Your comment has raised many new questions with me, ones that I wish had been addressed in the novel.

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  9. I like that you noticed that Fen’s Dad said “little girls”, since of little kids. It is important to take not in how purity is a symbol of femininity and is not an important to be masculine. Men and boys are not expected to remain pure.
    Now to answer your second question. Others view Enola as pure and not dirty with the Fever, and therefore they believe that she deserves a better life outside of the Delta. Enola is not like the rest of the people in the Delta, she has not had the same experiences. This is a dangerous idea, because everyone in the Delta is innocent. Nobody wanted to get the Fever and be considered dirty and be separated from the rest of the World.

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