In the eleventh chapter of The Obelisk Gate, Schaffa dreams. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to read The Broken Earth.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of abuse, trauma, PTSD, and nonconsensual medical procedures
Look, I donâ€™t necessarily like Schaffa, but what Jemisin has done with his character in this book is incredible. Itâ€™s not really a redemption narrative, or at least I donâ€™t sense that it is heading in that direction. In part, thatâ€™s because of the complicated nature of his life being saved. As I had written about before, I couldnâ€™t quite figure out where Schaffa started, where he ended, and how much of his behavior was due to the being that now controls him. I think after the last chapter that I feel safe in stating that Earth saved him, and now I suspect that this is the perversion mentioned during one of the memories in Schaffaâ€™s dreams. Were the Guardians meant to be used by the Earth? Was the Fulcrum created to keep the Guardians independent from Father Earth? Maybe? Now that Iâ€™ve typed that out, Iâ€™m not so sure about this theory, but thereâ€™s something here, I KNOW IT.Â
Anyway, I think that until the very end of this chapter, everything is Schaffa. This thing in his body only appears to push him in a certain direction, one that involves subjugating orogenes further. Which would mean that his changing feelings on his own complicity are his own; he isnâ€™t being compelled to feel that way. Still, this dream sequence is horrifying and confusing as we jump from one memory to another, so I wanted to pick out a few details to discuss. Like the very first one! That image of Schaffaâ€™s parents gave me an interesting detail: Schaffaâ€™s father was most likely a feral orogene. So, Guardians are orogenes, then. Or at least they had the potential for it? And that operationâ€”whatever the fuck it isâ€”takes place at Warrant, and the implant is what allows Guardians to be who they are. They have extremely long lifespans, they can connect with orogenes, etc. I feel pretty sure about this one! But then this line:
(He remembers learning, around this time, that original purposes can be perverted easily.)Â
It haunts me! Because did this process have a different purpose? Or did Guardians have a different purpose? Who perverted it? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN
…because from this moment forth his own sessapinae will be repurposed, made sensitive to orogeny and not to the perturbations of the earth.
Is that the perversion? Is it a deliberate process to stop them from being orogenes? OH I FEEL LIKE Iâ€™M SO CLOSE TO FIGURING THIS OUT.
The Earth is indeed evil, and it is cruel, and Schaffa would protect them all from it, if he could.
All right, maybe I need to truly start considering Earth as the true antagonist here. Because prior to this, I thought the phrase â€œEvil Earthâ€ was just like… a colloquial term. But after the previous chapter, Iâ€™ve got to re-think this. What if Earth is evil? Spiteful? Cruel? What if Earth never wanted humans and has been trying to get rid of them the whole time? How can an Earth be evil?
AND WHAT ABOUT LESHET. Or the fact that Guardians arenâ€™t supposed to have children? I guess that makes sense; those in power want to control breeding, right? We also know from prior clues that Guardians live a very long time, but Leshet… Schaffa was surprised to see her aging. Does that just never happen? Nothing here suggested that Guardians are immortal, so do they just… die one day? What does that mean? Why was he tracking her? Why did he kill her? WHAT ELSE DONâ€™T I KNOW ABOUT THE GUARDIANS?
The chapter focuses on Nassun in the end, and we get confirmation that Schaffa has figured out that she is Syeniteâ€™s daughter. But thereâ€™s a growth on his end that came after he nearly died. He is actively rethinking his complicity in all these systems. He is asking himself why he caused such immense pain in others, why he killed so many people, why all of this used to be normal for him. I loved that unnerving moment when Nassun tells him she is never afraid of him, and he quietly counters it with, â€œNever again.â€ It seems like a real promise he is making, and itâ€™s followed with this:
What happened before does not matter. That was a different Schaffa. He has another chance now. And if being less than himself means being less than the monster that he was, he cannot regret it.
Itâ€™s right at this point that the thing controlling Schaffa awakens and sends a bolt of pain through him, which tells us that Schaffaâ€™s thought was wrong to it. It wants Schaffa to â€œbreakâ€ Nassun, and thatâ€™s why my theory is that this voice is Earth. If this is really a multi-pronged war, which side would want this type of cruelty? Only one of them truly makes sense. So Earth saved Schaffa and is trying to use him for… what? To what end?
- NO THAT TITLE
- his name gives me HEART PALPITATIONS
- â€œyou donâ€™t like being him to any degreeâ€ hi what the FUCK does that mean????
- oh shit, that object makes it so Guardians rarely have to sleep?
- ugh this is all so haunting, I love this prose so much
- hi, schaffaâ€™s parents??????
- oh my god is this the procedure that made him a guardian???
- â€œoriginal purposes can be perverted easilyâ€ HI HELLO. what?? Meaning that this machine had a different purpose before it was used for this?
- an obelisk????
- â€œsensitive to orogeny and not to the perturbations of the earthâ€ okay, that confirms something hinted at in the last book. Guardians could have been orogenes but got made into… this?
- OMG ITâ€™S THE SOCKET
- okay, so the Socket is a direct connect to Earth, then! Thatâ€™s the voice that you hear, right???
- what the fuck
- WHAT THE FUCK
- okay so they canâ€™t have children???
- oh so he just killed them all
- just… what the
- wait, is it significant that Leshet aged???? she was hiding????
- oh my god this is TOO MUCH
- welp, he definitely knows who Nassun is
- oh, the confirmation of all the people he killed. DAMN.
- this transformation FASCINATES me
- hey what the FUCK is this voice
- what the fuck!!!!!! this whole chapter was A Lot
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