November 6, 2017
Disease at World’s End
I am enamored by the effects of illness and injury in future narratives. I think it is a very widely addressed and serious concern, no matter which way it is approached. In most future narratives illness or injury leads to the removal of that character.
In novels such as The Giver by Lois Lowry where the community has been “perfected” it is discovered that smaller, weaker infants are “released” along with the old. Illness is unheard of and injuries just don’t seem to happen. The truth is eventually revealed to Jonas that being released is really being put to death and pain is a very real and excruciating thing. So, while the community has no concept of pain, their Utopia is not free from death or illness. Twins are selected to live or die based on the ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, which is unusual since neither infant survived by their own ability. The idea of a utopia embracing death by deciding who needs to go and erasing pain and emotions uncovers the fact that humans live, die, hurt and feel. Without those characteristics we aren’t very human. We would be more like robots.
On the other hand, in stories like Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, illness or injury can be a death sentence or a target for becoming a victim. Survival depends on appearing to be strong, healthy and poor. Broken limbs, bleeding or obvious illness make you a weak victim for someone else looking to survive with whatever you have. Some will even take your life just for their own enjoyment. In this type of scenario ‘survival of the fittest’ seems legit. If you become weak then you are at a higher risk of losing your life. Lauren and her comrades survive by working together, but they also met up with a doctor who has some medications on hand. This raises this question, can one survive without modern medicine in a post-apocalyptic world? And if so, for how long? Either way, this novel shows that there is strength in numbers and humans need each other to survive.
In another apocalyptic television series, The Walking Dead, illness begins the whole apocalypse. A virus causes humans to die except for a part of their brain that allows them to walk around and eat and infect other humans. Avoiding the spread of the virus is an important part of survival, but becoming injured also causes struggles of survival as it is difficult to run or fight off zombies with a limp or an un-useable arm. The characters in this series are faced with unique challenges, such as what is safe to eat? Who can you trust? Where do you go for safety? In this case, humans can be just as dangerous as other apocalyptic threats. If the living dead are evaded and you avoid the spread of the virus, then you have to find food, water and shelter that is safe. Even with those three needs met there are still dangerous people in the world who live to torment and take from others.
Further still, in The Bible, it doesn’t matter much if you get sick or injured because Jesus might just show up and heal you! What is important in the scripture, and what many Christians believe, is that you have to be a good person and believe in God and Jesus Christ to get to heaven. It doesn’t matter if you died prior to that event from illness or murder. One can still enter the pearly gates based on honor.
Based on future narratives that I have read, I would gather that I need only to be a decent, healthy, cunning human being to survive and have any chance at reaching a better place than a post-apocalyptic world. However, I think power plays a large role in just about everything, and the same could be said for life saving medications and services. Without someone in power people would likely run amok or individuals with power would have the ultimate decision of who survives and who wastes away. I would like to research how 3rd world countries avoid spreading illness and ways that we might be able to insure a viable back up resource for immunizations and health for everyone. Perhaps an emergency first aid type kit. I will examine how those ideas would have fit into the previously mentioned texts.
· Butler, Octavia E. (, ©1993) Parable of the Sower. New York : Warner Books