Memory-dependent grief in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling Cover Image

Memory-dependent grief in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling
Memory-dependent grief in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling

Author(s): Magdalena Łapińska
Subject(s): Studies of Literature, Theory of Literature
Published by: Wydział Filologiczny Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku
Keywords: grief; mourning; memories; amnesia; emotions;

Summary/Abstract: The article explores grief as a memory-related emotional response to the loss of loved ones as presented in Octavia Butler’s fantasy novel Fledgling. The article deals with the inability to experience grief due to memory loss and the struggles that come with it. The reasons behind the inability of the main character to experience grief and its meaning are investigated. Two potential explanations are explored: the inability to experience grief as a result of general dissociative amnesia caused by the traumatic experience of witnessing the slaughter of one’s family and being left on the brink of death, and the possibility of the loss of affect induced by overwhelming feelings of loss. The grief over a person of whom the memories are intact is analyzed and contrasted with the lack of grief for the forgotten relatives. The idea of continuing bonds connected with the mourning process is briefly presented and illustrated using examples from Fledgling. The theory of five stages of grief formulated by the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is briefly introduced. Some of the stages of Kübler-Ross’s theory (denial, anger and acceptance) are illustrated through the analysis of the grief experienced by the main character. The distinct inability to govern or temper the emotional response to death is presented. Grief is also briefly introduced as a possible bonding instrument.

  • Issue Year: 2016
  • Issue No: 04 (15)
  • Page Range: 82-92
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: English