The Imperialism of Unkind Ghosts

Jamie Keller

Dr. Foss

Take Home final examination

“I hereby declare upon my word of honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this work.”

Option 1: Thesis-driven literary analysis focused on one aspect of An Unkindness of Ghosts

Word count: 1,061

The story “An Unkindness of Ghosts” takes place in a world, far into the future after the world has already been destroyed. The last living humans are on a spaceship, are on a spaceship with multiple different levels and jobs set for each person. While on the ship, there are strict rules and there is also one person who rules over the entire ship. The society that formed in the ship created a system similar to the European imperial system.

First and foremost, with how the ranking system is set up, it is very reminiscent of how money and rank tends to stay with those who already have it. There are three overall subtle language changes that happen between the upper and lower levels. The upper levels have a more proper language that is more ‘noble-like’ while the lower class have a more ‘rough’ language and the middle class is a mix between the two. If someone who is from the upper class overhears something from the lower class’ language would not be able to understand it unless there is a specific reason from their past why they would be able to understand it. Traveling between each of the levels is not allowed, especially if they are someone of the lower levels, unless they have a pass which is a way of control. Continuing on the form of control, if anyone breaks a martial law that was put into place, like the head count, there are extreme punishments similar to how if a slave broke a rule would get a punishment more severe then it should have been in modern days.

Money and how people view you are also a part of the older version of imperialism. Those with a lot of money, land, and are talked about either through rank or through being extremely good at something. Those specifically are carried through the family line and those that do not have access to that or are able to make a name for themselves, tend to stay in the lower class. If people view someone else as different, they normally get shunned out of society, in this “Unkindness of Ghosts”, those that are not welcomed by society are living in the lower levels of the ship. Their conditions are extremely poor, just like the slaves and peasents of the past as they are doing whatever it takes to survive to day to day. Throughout the story, there is continued proof that the conditions needed to be improved. The examples are such as freezing temperatures that gave someone frostbite and being punished for just wanting a change. Those that are from the lower class or levels that are seen for wanting change enacted by others with more power are seen as crazy or too lazy to be able to pick themselves up from their boot straps and make the situation better themselves. Even if you are extremely smart but have something that no one likes, it makes it hard to be able to change it. Most people would think of them overcoming the disability rather than actually being smart which is a sad reality of the real world. If seen as defective or not following the social norm of how one is supposed to act, then you stick out like a sore thumb that others feel like they need to fix.

With how the story ends, it shows how the world works in reality. Not all disability characters get killed off or get cured for their “happily ever after”. Everyone is not suddenly “happy” with their living conditions because they got a bandaid over any old scars that there might be. It shows that no life is perfect and not every story has a happy ending because life is full of ups and downs. There is no life that is perfect every single day, nor does bad things happen every single day. An important thing to remember is that from day to day, those living in an imperialistic society would not be thinking of those ruling over them unless a major event is happening to the ruler or the fact that they are going through a bad day. Each person is going through their own lives and another person’s life does not usually matter.

When finally getting back to earth, and escaping from an imperialist government, mixed feelings fell upon Aster. She was sorry for everything that she had lost to get where she was now but at the same time, she was finally happy to be where she was supposed to be. In terms, if she had just listened to those above her, she wouldn’t have lost those close to her, on the other hand though, she would not have gotten to earth by disobeying. Which brings in the question, which is better? Being in a government that is absolutely horrible to those of the lower class and those that are different, or being in a completely forgeign land by yourself and no one to be able to help besides the skills you have learned? I think in Aster’s case, since she always felt a little alone, the latter was better for her and most probably would agree. Those that have a better rank in the society would probably not want that same choice and go with the first one. When it comes to real life, it might be hard to make the choice because if you do not have the skills to be able to survive on nearly nothing, it might be safer and give you the ability to more than likely to survive if you stay with something familiar. At the very least, Aster now has the ability to do whatever she desires. There is no one stopping her from reaching her full capabilities nor no one punishing her from doing what she thinks is right. In any story, of course the main character is usually in the right, unless proven otherwise so I have a feeling that whatever plans to do now that story is over is going to be the best for herself and any future humans that happen to escape and come back to earth in the future. With the knowledge she has, hopefully she knows better than to set up a system that empowers those with ill intentions for those who are weak and different.

Leave a Reply