Tag: character-status

The Rights of Personhood

After the discussion on Monday, I found I really wanted to comment on Bladerunner¬†this week, though it is slightly unorthodox for me to do so as part of the Wednesday group. The group presenting had a final question that the class did not have a chance to address–“Is Deckard a Replicant?”–and I’d like to try to answer it here. This question can be framed in two ways: “Is Deckard a synthetic being?” or “Does Deckard have the same situation and problems of a Replicant?” Given that the first is unprovable by any viewer, the second must be considered. Deckard’s personality–or lack thereof–seems at first an obvious suggestion that he might be a replicant, but none of the humans in this movie are the fully-fleshed out people we associate with fictional representations. Working within the movie alone, Deckard does not actually stand out much from other human characters, whom we learn equally little about. Some might point to Deckard’s taking orders against his will at the start of the movie, but all the concrete examples of replicants in the movie rebel against orders. And so the question becomes, why does Deckard act more like a robot than the actual robots? Because it doesn’t matter for him. The true difference between Deckard and the replicants, which makes me convinced that Deckard is not a replicant, is that replicants are constantly scrutinized and feel the need to justify their humanity. Rachael brings out evidence of herself as a child, Leon safeguards his precious photos, Pris says “I think therefore I am,” and Roy saves Deckard. The last is significant because Roy is appealing to an idealized version of humanity–he safeguards life, therefore he must be human. Deckard never feels the need to do any of these things because he is under no pressure to justify himself–these are rights he possesses innately. Someone pointed out in class that Deckard was eating at the beginning of the movie and seemed aimless. The fact that he’s eating furthers the notion that Deckard is human–he consumes, he is selfish.

Pecola as a Central Character

When I began reading “The Bluest Eye,” I read the foreword, which elucidated many parts of the novel that might have otherwise confused me. What sticks out the most in looking back on this novel is Pecola’s designation as the main character. Morrison writes, “the main character could not stand alone since her passivity made her a narrative void. So I invented friends, classmates” (X). This confession startled me at the time but I proceeded to read with a fixation on any mention of Pecola, knowing she was meant to be the focal point of the plot. And she is the focal point at a distance–a force that whispers through the lifelines of all other characters, connecting their disparate situations, but she seems to belong to the realm of in-between–a character that exists in tension but not on her own. It is an odd situation when the main character cannot bear the weight of the plot. In the end, when Morrison forces her to confront that role and take her place as the primary voice, she crumbles. Pecola’s split personality then seems less like a necessary reaction to traumatic events, and more like a literary device to ease the burden of Pecola’s designation as plot-bearer.

Thoughts on the Character of the Invisible Man and his Role

I have found that for the most part the Invisible Man lived up to his name, as I had not been able to grasp any attribute ascribable to him rather than the race as a whole. This notion was reinforced in chapter five where music and weaving at the loom indicated that all individuals at the college were part, or at least acted the part, of the same harmony and cloth, leaving the Invisible Man feeling “more lost than ever” as he realizes his dissonance (133). But when he arrives in Harlem, he also describes the protest there as having “a strange out of joint quality” (160-161). This marked a turning point in my eye where a vehicle for the Invisible Man we met in the prologue changed to a character we would refer to as the Invisible Man. Even starting in Dr. Bledsoe’s office, the Invisible Man is no longer defined by the purposefully portrayed meek image, and in his dissonant actions I saw a character for the first time.