Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Children of God, substantive post

One interesting point that struck me as I was reading Children of God, was the role of Issac, Sophia's son. My first reaction to his so called "not normal" behavior was that he was autistic. If this was the intention that Russell wanted the reader to go on, it is a very interesting detail to include. People, and more specifically children who are autistic are often "others" in their own world, a foreigner of sorts in the way that they react to and understand the world. I thought this was an interesting parallel to the broader concept of the "other" that this book examines. Sophia is clearly an other, being a human being on Rahkat. Supaari is an other, being a Jan'ata in a community of Runa, and Emilio Sandoz is an other as well, being the only known survivor of the the first mission back on earth. Having Issac as he was, exhibiting behavior of someone who is autistic, illuminated the theme of communication and its importance when encountering the other. This made me think back to The Conquest of America, in which Todorov claims that the Europeans were "successful" in their conquests due to their superior communication skills and there ability to "understand" the native peoples. Many of the tragedies that occurred in this book were a result of miscommunication or misunderstandings of the other. The fact that Issac is the one who discovers at the end, the ultimate purpose of the mission, is a strategic move on Russell's part. it took an outsider among his own people, human beings, to understand another outsider, the inhabitants of Rahkat.

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