Something Strange and Deadly, Weekly Discussion #4
“‘Eleanor, you have a choice,’ [Jie] said softly. ‘You always have a choice’” (p. 166, Something Strange & Deadly)How do you think this quote relates to the overall theme of Something Strange and Deadly? Do you think Eleanor behaves as if she has a choice at the start of the book? What about at the end of the book? And do other characters behave as if they have a choice or do some see themselves as victims of circumstance?
This is my favourite question so far, and that’s why I took a really, really long time to post the answer. For so many reasons, choice is the most important thing in the whole world for everyone - free will. Without free will, there’s absolutely nothing.
Which is why, in the beggining of the book, it’s absolutely terrifying - and to the whole context of the time - women were supposed to have no choice. And it’s something horrible, forcing a human being to obey some made-up rules as if themselves didnt matter. And the sad thing is that it’s not only in the book, but throughout the whole world, humanity has oppresed itself and taken choice and freedom away from others. (See: children, women, foreigners, slaves, poc and so on). Anyway, moving forth, in the beggining of the book Eleanor believes herself to be bound to the society she was raised in, and she truly believes that she has not a choice regarding her own life.
The awesome thing, of course, is to see Eleanor’s character development along the book - from a girl who believed she could do nothing but follow other people’s orders, she starts thinking more for herself and finally starts making the decisions she wants for herself. So basically, the whole theme of the book is, yes, the importance of what you choose for your life. If Eleanor hadn’t made the choices herself, she probably wouldn’t be happy at all. The other characters as well - the spirit-hunters make their choice to save the world despite everyone’s ungratefulness, especially Jie and Daniel. The two other characters who come up close to Eleanor in the question of choice are both Clarence and her mother - people raised in the same beliefs and in the same society, generally incapable of seeing “outside the box” that they have been raised in. This in itself is something to add to the book in general - Jie and Eleanor are the only ones who manage to escape the system that they were raised in, choosing to break free of these rules.
In general, choice is a major theme in every book in existence. Choices define who the characters are, and how the story goes. About lack or too much freedom. Choice is about everything, choice is about life, and what we do, and who we decide to be. And last but not least, I’ll just leave aq good quote that defines every single book and character, in my opinion:
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."