Abstract

abstract:

Octavia Butler's final science fiction novel, Fledgling (2005), explores ways her liminar protagonist, Shori, undergoes ritualized transformations while in exile from her home community. During this process, she engages in psychological, physical, political, and social transitions through what Victor Turner and Mikhail Bakhtin would describe as carnivalesque identities and communities. Shori, the lost child of an ancient species of near immortals who live in dark symbiosis with humans, produces subversive and grotesque sites of home and family in this process. In a state of separation and amnesia, Shori awakens outside her gated community and moves back and forth over metaphoric thresholds. She reverses hierarchical race and gender positions as she creates a world that opposes traditional vampire lore and the American family. Furthermore, Shori's act of "biting" victims for their blood sees them feed on a venom with physical and psychic healing properties, thus creating a grotesque communitas relationship.

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