Illness and Interconnectedness within Speech Sounds

“When the driver hit the brakes, she was ready and the combatants were not. They fell onto seats and onto screaming passengers, creating even more confusion.” Pg. 90
This moment in Speech Sounds represents the complex relationship between all individuals within the text. The etymology of confusion according to the OED, is the Latin confundĕre, which means “to mingle together or mix up”. This definition accurately depicts the broken-down society of Butler’s short story, because though individuals lack the ability to communicate verbally, they are still very much connected as a result of the illness. Each member is brought together through the larger organizing system of sickness and death, and each person’s role within this system can be easily substituted for—which we see at the end when Rye becomes a parent figure to the two children. This organizing system is in some ways similar to Mercerism within Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, in that both offer a way of linking individuals across time and space. Unlike Mercerism, however, individuals are capable of choosing whom to empathize with and when.

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