Media and Perspective

That afternoon, the church was packed, thanks to the television, newspaper, and radio, though not so much the Internet.  According to the media, the water along all the beaches was “rising at an alarming rate!” and pushing into the lagoon.  Government buildings and independent businesses were all “closed until further notice!”  There had been an “excruciatingly loud racket tumbling off the ocean.”  Something was amiss, and everyone was getting ready for whatever would come next.  (58)

Throughout Lagoon, we are presented with a staggering multitude of perspectives and, on more than one occasion, multiple accounts of the same event.  In doing so, Okorafor very clearly provides readers with the idea that simply because two people witnessed the same occurrence does not mean that they will interpret that occurrence the same way; in fact, Lagoon almost seems to posit that it is impossible for one person to absorb something in the same way as another.  The presence of the media in the novel only complicates this.  In the passage above, it can be garnered from the three separate quotations that there are multiple outlets reporting on the events taking place in Lagos, and the fact that there are clashing reports–all engendering paranoia of some sort–demonstrates the way in which a different perspective on an event can work towards obscuring that event just as much as it could work toward elucidating it.  In spite of all the information the people of Lagos are being given, nothing is concrete- and as a result, they are not preparing for any danger in specific, only “whatever would come next”.

Originality: the Inherent Inequality of Man

“She was wearing an old-fashioned dress, short, bright yellow, and had on a black hat and black stockings.  The dress was made of a very thin silk–I could clearly see that the stockings were long and came way above her knees.  And the neck was cut very low, with the shadow between her…

‘Listen,’ I said, ‘it’s clear that you want to show off your originality, but do you really have to..’

‘It’s clear,’ she broke in, ‘that to be original means to distinguish yourself from others.  It follows that to be original is to violate the principle of equality.  And what the ancients called, in their idiotic language, ‘being banal’ is what we call ‘just doing your duty’. Because…'”–(Zamyatin 30).

It is unacceptable to be original in this society because originality–the concept of being unique–is inherently difference and that clashes with the idea of a utopia (or in this case, a dystopia) where people are all meant to be similar and equal.  Of course the idea of equality to the fullest measure is impossible!  There is no natural way of making everyone the same, both physically and mentally.  In this scene, I-303 comes out in this dress which is very different from what everyone is made to wear in this society.  D-503 looks at her and immediately gets angry to the point where he accuses her, “do you really have to…”.

The values that we think important in our society is totally flipped on its head in this dystopia because emotion and difference are made to be non-existent. Most people love their originality but here, the Numbers take pride in the fact that they are the same.  In fact, when D-503 notices any difference, like his monkey hands, he immediately is ashamed because it makes him stand out from the other Numbers. This, in his perspective within the context of this society, is both unacceptable and not to be tolerated.