Oppressive Societies in Literature: Short Novel on The Hate U Give and Children of Blood and Bone
Children of Blood and Bone is a young adult novel written by Nigerian American author Tomi Adeyemi. Adeyemi’s debut novel is the first book in a trilogy and follows Zelie Adebola as she attempts to bring magic back to the Kingdom of Orisha. After the brutal oppression of her people, she will stop at nothing to bring the magic back and set her people free. In the novel, Adeyemi uses a series of symbols to convey the different themes. For instance, the snow leopanaire is for many a symbol of the freedom of their people, but in reality it is a symbol of how King Saran demonstrates absolute rule. The snow leopanaire is a symbol of absolute rule through its repressive and scary nature that is controlled through fear. The royal seal was selected by King Saran after the raid to establish dominance. The raid alludes to the genocide carried out in Orisha based on the magic of the maji. Orisha’s people are slain if they have white hair, regardless of their magic being noble, like healing others. Ever since the raid, magic was strictly forbidden and gone from Orisha. King Saran used the fear of the royal seal to oppress and destroy any evidence of uprisings by controlling the maji, conveying it as a death-bringing seal to the magic practitioners in Orisha. The snow leopanaire was chosen as a logo because it represents purity. Purity is seen as something the nobility is. They are pure from both magic and gods, and therefore the epitome of men. This reveals how the caste system in Orisha is entrenched in dehumanization and injustice. We particularly see this example of dehumanization in Lagos, where the diviners are forced to live in the streets of the capital. Zelie sees the rough conditions and expresses her anguish and hatred towards the state of affairs, “The vibrant protest defies the title of slum, an ember of beauty where the monarchy sees none.” This further demonstrates the conflicted relationship between Orisha’s people and the caste system. The maji are considered “maggots” by the nobility because of the harsh conditions they are forced to live in and are seen as second-class citizens. Thirdly, the snow leopanaire highlights the monarchy’s specific ideology based on dehumanization and bigotry. The leopanaire is perceived as a deadly predator and is meant to install awe and horror in Orisha. Furthermore, it depicts how the monarchy’s strength and authority are maintained through violence and fear. The very root of the monarchy is based on slaughtering an entire people, and King Saran refuses to let his people forget the power he holds. In addition, the color of the snow leopanaire affects how people view the monarchy.
In contrast to the previous symbol, King Saran changed the royal seal into a snow leopardine, depicting it as something cruel and good. While the gallant bull horned lionaire made the whole of Orisha feel safe, the snow leopanaire only protects the aristocracy; the pure. Amari reacts to the symbol with unease, “He proclaimed that our power would be represented by the snow leopanaires: ryders who were ruthless. Pure.” Furthermore, Throughout Africa, as well as in Orisha, the continent’s culture and mythology play a significant part in establishing the rule. Orisha’s history has a deep connection with the animals surrounding them. This can be referred to as Zelie’s relationship with Nailah, her leopanaire. The leopard is a symbol of dignity, ferocity, and courage across Africa. In many African civilizations, the leopard is respected. Due to its stealth and mystery the leopard is seen as a skilled hunter and has a long history connecting them to kingships and royalty. Many pictures of African chiefs depicted them wearing leopard fur as a display of their rank and power. King Saran uses this to his advantage. With the symbol and meaning behind the snow leopanaire, he established authority over his people. Children of Blood and Bone is heavily influenced by African religion and plays a significant part of the royal seal. The novel contains a series of African gods and goddesses, connecting them to the maji and their ancestors. Nobles like Amari, on the other hand, deny the existence of gods. This rejection of faith is exemplified by the usage of the exclamation “Skies!” rather than a divine invocation. Furthermore, this is a way to express their disbelief in a higher power. King Saran denies the existence of gods because it doesn’t appeal to him. Religion, in his eyes, would pose a danger to his absolute rule. The nobility’s rejection of faith, on the other hand, arises from gods not fitting into a world of absolute control. Nobles do not trust in gods; instead, they believe in themselves and their own power. This comparison displays the torn relationship between the maji and the nobles as two different social ranks in Orisha. Many authors use symbolism to avoid confronting a divisive topic head-on. Adeyemi applies this technique to assist in addressing a potentially divisive topic in a subdued manner.
While the novelist may use African mythology and culture for inspiration, the themes are rooted in the real world. The snow leopard is used to draw attention to the oppressive structures today’s youth are experiencing. She has drawn inspiration from real life issues that our society faces, such as sexism and racism. With heroines such as Zelie and Amari on the frontline, the fear of the symbol diminishes. The symbolism of the oppressive structures us used to fuel the need and belief in change in our own societies. Therefore, the symbol of the snow leopard can both be used as a symbol for absolute rule, or the importance of a democratic system. The royal symbol in Children of Blood and Bone is used to establish dominance and absolute rule in Orisha. It is used as a reminder of the purity, a reminder of the dehumanization of the caste system, and the monarchy’s specific ideology rooted in violence and destruction. It is also a narrative about prejudice, the risks of authority, and power abuse, as well and discrimination. The novel depicts many of the challenges we face in our society today, while also offering solutions to how we can improve. Even though it is challenging, we must strive for a better world. Children of Blood and Bone. Henry Holt and Company Selier, Dr. Jeanetta. African Leopard. The South African National Biodiversity Institute. The Hate you Give is a Young Adult novel by Angie Thomas. We follow Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old girl in Garden Heights. She is torn between two worlds: Her neighborhood, and the posh school she attends. One fateful night, she witnesses her friend Khalil being shot by a police officer. This rattles the balance between her two worlds and makes Starr question everything she knows. The Hate you Give fits with the book Children of Blood and Bone in the way that they both bring controversial topics into the limelight. The elements of this novel that I will focus on are the main characters and themes. The Hate you Give helps me understand the novel in a more realistic way. The settings and main characters are extremely similar, and both books belong in the young adult genre. Both Starr Carter and Zelie Adeyemo are teenage girls who have seen horrendous things happen to those they love.
In addition to this, their desire to fight for what is right also resembles each other. On the other hand, Starr Carter’s situation is a reality for many people in the world today, whereas Zelie’s situation is rather dystopian. Zelie is a defiant and strong character, but similarly to Starr, her fear and self-doubt sometimes get the best of her. Similar characters, traits, and their fight for justice shed reality into what Children of Blood and Bone is truly about. Both authors drew inspiration from the period in America where police brutality was a recurring theme. Both of their novels depict similar themes, where the characters face racism, authorial brutality, and activism. Adeyemi says in an interview that she wrote the novel with that in mind stating, «It’s this big fantasy, but it’s meant to be this glaring mirror.” In addition, she looks at how society utilizes misconceptions about black people to justify racism and violence against them. Thomas, on the other hand, writes about the prejudices against black people that shield the white communities. This is similar to both Starr’s prep pupils fancy neighborhoods, and King Saran who shields the nobility from the diviners in Orisha by keeping them in the stocks. Lastly, Starr’s father, explains to Starr his view of what thug life is, confronting the issue of systematic racism, “That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug Life.” There is a lot we can learn about Children of Blood and Bone through examining The Hate you Give. It broadens our perspective on the oppressive system in Orisha and gives us a clear view of how such systems might operate in our own society. These two books show us that even if corrupt societies can exist in dystopian tales, we can draw similar lines to our own society. The fight for a righteous world is never-ending, but with the right amount of bravery, anything is possible.