Essay on Octavia E. Butler's Short Story Speech Sounds

Essay on Octavia E. Butler's Short Story Speech Sounds

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In an interview titled “Magic, Mystery and Mayhem: An Interview with J.K. Rowling,” when asked about the way she came up with the names of characters in her books, she replied, “I invented some of the names in the Harry books, but I also collect strange names. I've gotten them from medieval saints, maps, dictionaries, plants, war memorials, and people I've met!” J.K. Rowling chose these names for a reason based on the deeper meanings behind every character's name and the way they relate to their roles and personalities. In Octavia E. Butler's short story “Speech Sounds”, Rye and Obsidian were the names she chose for her characters. Rye, the name of the main protagonist which symbolizes home and earth yearns to reconnect with her family and to rebuild a family of her own while Obsidian, the supporting character, is named after a type of lava stone, which is believed to contain magical properties that “absorbs and destroys negative energy such as anger, criticism, and fear” (Zagata). The names of the characters have two purposes: to describe the character's role and personality, and to give them an identity.
In my view, this is a tragic love story between Rye and Oblivion in search of a place to call home while helping weaker people around them. According to the traditional worldview, women are the weaker beings who need protection from men, however, although Rye received some protection from Obsidian, she was still able to take care of herself before she met him and after he passed way. It shows “the reversal of gender roles and the inevitable power struggle between two species who must become interdependent if they are to survive” (Podolsky). Although Rye was independent, her encounter with Obsidian whetted her taste...

... middle of paper ...

... and their uniqueness gave readers reasons to remember their names.

Works Cited

Butler, Octavia. “Speech Sounds.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susun X Day, and Robert Funk. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2008. 408-417. Print.
"Magic, Mystery, and Mayhem: An Interview with J.K. Rowling." Interview by Message., Inc. or Its Affiliates, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
Podolsky, Marjorie J. "Octavia E. Butler." Magill’S Survey Of American Literature, Revised Edition (2006): 1-5. Literary Reference Center. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.
Satran, Pamela R, and Linda Rosenkrantz. The Baby Name Bible: The Ultimate Guide by America's Baby-Naming Experts. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2007. 283. Print.
Zagata, Darlene. "Spiritual Meaning of Black Obsidian." EHow. Demand Media, 14 Dec. 2009. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

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