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Theme of Race in Unwind

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by

Cassandra Cobb

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Theme of Race in Unwind

Theme of Race in Unwind
Two Ways to Approach Teaching the theme of "Race"
in Unwind:
1. Language Lesson
2. Compare Unwind to other dystopian novels addressing race.
Comparing Unwind to Other Dystopian Novels
Try pairing "Unwind" with another dystopian novel, such as Scott Westerfield’s "Uglies", which stresses that any image besides the desired 'beauty' according to society is hideous. The premise for "Uglies", is that at the age of sixteen, the teenager undergoes surgery to become “pretty”, the surgery does many things, along with lightening the skin, but can only be lightened so far.
Kat Zhang's "What's Left of Me"
Race is addressed in a society that fears terrorists and other 'modern' day problems, except in this dystopian novel, characters have two personalities within one person and are expected to “settle” on one by the age of ten. The main character Eva/Addie has not “settled” but she learns how to hide.
Literary Terms Lesson
1. Define the terms: denotations, and connotations
Defining terms
Classroom Objective: to explore the reasons why “black” and “white” would change over time to be more artistic terms as “umber” and “sienna”.
Does the time gap (between war and "present" day in the novel) play a factor in all this?
Connotations
Definition: the suggesting of a
meaning
by a word
apart
from the thing it explicitly names or describes (Merriam-Webster).

What are the connotations of the word "black"? Are there steretypes or images that come to mind? What about "white"?

Denotations
Definition: a direct
specific
meaning as distinct from an implied or associated idea (Merriam-Webster).

What are the denotations for white and black?
For the students to jot down during/after the lesson:
Students can have a writing prompt that challenges them to create a more positive connotation for a normal word that has negative connotations, such as “snake”.
Example: Clever, serpent, reptile, cold-blooded, smooth, skillful, agile.
As opposed to the negative connotations like: sneaky, dangerous, predatory.

"Uglies"
"She tweaked the eyebrows, making their arch more dramatic, and added roundness to the cheeks. Shay was still too skinny, even after the morpho software had pulled her toward the average.

'And maybe a bit lighter?' Tally took the shade of the skin closer to baseline.

'Hey, Squint,' Shay said. 'Whose face is this, anyway?'"
Baseline?
In the "Uglies", baseline skin color is pale, and anyone not in that society past the age of surgery is considered untouchable/ugly. The problem is, the surgery can only do so much. What happens to those whose skin can not lighten up to the desire "beauty"? Are they outcasts by default?
Excerpt from Text
Critic Victoria Law, "In the book, fears of foreign hybrids have curtailed contact with other countries and most immigration. There is one family that's an exception: The Mullans. Their children, Hally and Devon, are keenly aware of how their skin color and foreign father mark them as potential threats.
Excerpt
"The officials wouldn’t have been lenient about the deadline—not with us," Devon points out to Eva/Addie. Eva/Addie understand the Mullans' fear, reflecting: "The government could do whatever it wanted, and no one would say a thing. They could destroy the Mullans, rip them out of their house, take away every last cent, throw them into jail on a technicality, and no one would blink, no one would question. It would almost be expected. I could hear the whispers that would arise, the relief. I'd always known they were up to something,they'd say. Didn't I keep telling you? A family like that…They had to be up to something."
Writing Journal Prompt
Umber + Sienna
Umber
Sienna
How would you feel being labeled as one of these colors? Do you like the names of these colors? Are they beautiful? Are they degrading? Do they limit you?
Writing Prompt for Students
Some Questions to Raise
Humphrey Dunphy's consciousness was felt when many people gathered together. They were each very different, and likely not of the same race, yet his consciousness spanned across them. Is the author saying something about the value of unity? Is he making a statement of race?
Full transcript