Trying to Look In
When we discuss Wendt’s Black Rainbow a word that is constantly repeated by its readers is “shock.” Morality and identity are topics if not central themes in the novel that are exposed to the reader constantly and directly throughout the novel. As we read Wendt’s novel we marvel at the tranquility and acceptance found in its characters. We cannot help but to pulled into the shocking and dramatic world in which our characters live because their world is so much different from ours, but is it really? The characters live in a world where ideas and beliefs about sexuality and individuality are central to their lives and it retrospect don’t we live in a world exactly like theirs?
I often stop and try to look at my life and the world I live in like a novel that I am reading. When I read Wendt’s novel I wondered what people would think of my world if they could look at it? Would they find it “shocking” to realize that I can drive by countless homeless people every year and think very little of it? Would they be “shocked” to find out that I did not care enough to pull over and give a guy a couple a bucks that I technically don’t really need? Would they be shocked to know that I sleep peacefully and comfortably in my bed every night without concern for the others in the world who suffer? Maybe, maybe not, I think that it’s all dependent on the reader. In Wendt’s novel the events that shock us most are probably the “taboos” that we believe span across all cultures (such as incest and homosexuality), but what we all believe to be “universal taboo’s” may not fit the description everywhere in the world.
Speaking of the world, what does the world think of the US? Maybe to the world the US is parallel to the world inside Wendt’s novel. Maybe the world is shocked at the way Americans accept and believe everything that our government says (this is kind of leading toward conspiracy ideas/beliefs). Maybe the world marvels at how the American culture slowly disintegrates ethnic cultures and groups into the homogenized America that we are beginning to know today. Are books like Black Rainbow and 1984 predictions of our future? We’ll probably never know, because whether we like it or not we are very similar to the characters symbolized in Black Rainbow even though we can’t see it.