Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Analyzing the Setting of Cinder

"Fairy Tale Recreation in a Futuristic Society: Analyzing the Setting of Cinder"


Because reading on a screen is difficult enough without adding lengthy paragraphs fit for a newspaper, I have broken up the follow analysis into headings, with each body paragraph stuck between a Heading and an image even though it may appear to be two or four paragraphs total. Formatting aside, each analysis-blog will focus on one main element of fiction (setting, plot, characters, imagery, voice, or point of view) and there will be no order for which element I choose. The decision will be based on the current novel.

"Fairy Tale Recreation in a Futuristic Society: Analyzing the Setting of Cinder"

Recreating fairy tales for modern audiences and transforming the world into a dystopian society is challenging enough before you focus on maintaining the reliability of the narrator and its story. Whisking Cinderella into New Beijing following World War IV rattles the reader’s expectations of a fairy tale by entering the familiar setting of China. Marissa Meyer creates reliable characters and believable history through her use of setting in the young adult novel Cinder. Now a cyborg but still an orphan, Cinder works as a mechanic in New Beijing for her wicked stepmother where she meets and falls in love with Prince Kaito, who hopes to have his android repaired before his royal Coronation. Reimagining China for a dystopian future by blending the old traditions of an Asian market and government with new customs involving androids and cyborgs illustrates the importance and reliability a reader places on the story’s setting because he or she is more likely to believe in the possibility of Cinderella keeping an android for a best friend rather than a mouse.

Image Courtesy BooksHub

Old Traditions

The old traditions of the Asian market place and dynasty illustrate the survival of the Chinese lifestyle and its culture in a drastically altered world. 

While there is no lack of technological upgrades in Cinder, the retention of the open market highlights the need for China’s cultural stability after the war’s destruction. The open market concept continues to exist because it leads to personal interaction, an action that is dying in the futuristic world dominated by portscreens and similar objects that erase the need for face-to-face conversations, which is similar to the current social media obsessed society. Open markets also create jobs for humans and cyborgs alike, including the cyborg protagonist Cinder, as many remedial and unwanted jobs have been granted to non-argumentative and mindless androids. The markets allow the citizens to be and act human in the age of android servants and employees. 

Furthermore, Prince Kaito and his father, the Emperor, represent the dynasty of China’s past when, before the rise of Communism in the 1900s, emperors ruled the country through family lineage for hundreds of years. After World War IV, the Asian countries merge into what the rest of the globe recognizes as the Eastern Commonwealth. The idea of dynasties has been associated with Chinese history for generations, and it creates a sense of security for the reader because he or she will know and trust the futuristic Beijing based on the familiar attributes. After the world has been destroyed and rebuilt, China reverts back to its origins to claim cultural stability to avoid additional changes and damage.

Technological Dependency

Blending the humans’ trust of androids and disgust of cyborgs depicts the growing technological dependence that is becoming evident in the modern world as well as introducing a new occurrence where hate crimes have changed focus from genders and races to physical deformities. 

Trusting androids instead of humans is an act of security and independence. They provide security for their personal secrets, important work, and for overall physical safety as well as offer independence for their masters because they can be alone but still maintain a communicative companion. While androids are not present in today’s world, parts of the population rely on their social media and text message relationships more than their personal ones, which can be seen in television shows like Catfish, because of the smaller promises of commitment, fear of the truth, or the ease of running and leaving the relationship behind. 

Within the novel, Cinder relies on her android, named Iko, because her stepmother and sisters treat her like property rather than like a ward. Although Iko has a stronger personality chip than most androids imbedded in her computer, all androids run under the operations of their master and cannot act on their own accord. For Prince Kaito, his tutor android contains secret information that could be used against him if a person knew of the data. 

Alternatively, the reliance on androids leads to distrust amongst humans because the dependency of technology has led to broken communication and understanding. The cyborgs are the strongest example of technological dependency. While they are still humans, the metal additions to their bodies create a divide between them and all others. Individuals view cyborgs as property, much like Cinder’s stepmother views her, because they resemble androids. Technology is not simply something to ease their lives, but something that they control because humans believe themselves to be superior beings. If race and gender disputes have existed for thousands of years, there is nothing to stop the current generation from following the path Meyer creates where they change their focus from color or biological differences to metal additions. Cyborgs retain their human emotions and free will while simultaneously expected to live and act like mindless androids.


Believable Future,  Real Setting

The Asian lifestyle, China’s political history, a dependence on technology, and physical differences are ideas that are common in today’s world, and it is because of these elements that Meyer creates a believable and even possible future setting that a reader would trust without hesitation. 

Historical context, which represents facts, and cultural norms, which represent opinion, transform the plot from that of a strange fairy tale setting to one that a reader can envision for his or her world. This setting for Cinderella may seem outrageous to the reader, but Meyer justifies the setting by following up with Asian history and human judgments, topics most readers will be acquainted with. The reader’s trust of the narrator is dependent on the author’s ability to write a story with familiar or relatable settings, plots, and characters. Meyer took physical setting characteristics of our modern world, adjusted cultural stereotypes, and showed her audience a glimpse into what life could be like in a few dozen years if they keep their trust in technology and continue to shun individuals who are different. For this reason, the idea that this sort of future is possible is what holds the story solidly together, so while it is exciting to imagine androids it is simultaneously terrifying to envision two additional world wars and the knowledge that humanity’s cruelty does not falter.

Within Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, a fairy tale featuring a cyborg Cinderella is not only believable, but also expected after experiencing the modern world’s obsession with technology and its constant cling to cultural and stereotypical normalcy. Setting is not only a backdrop for a story, but a link to familiar imaginations, safe havens, and coming-of-age scenes. Very rarely has a writer created a brilliant plot, relatable characters, and witty dialogue without the support of a solidly constructed setting. People do not live in empty white spaces; therefore, the setting is the first step in transforming a story into an adventure. 

If you're interested, you can get the novel here.

No comments:

Post a Comment