Daily Archives: February 12, 2014



Character: Niki

Source Text: Ishiguro, Kazuo. A Pale View of Hills. London: Faber and Faber, 2005. Print.

Entry Author: Victoria Patlajan

“For paradoxically it was he who wanted to give her (Niki) a Japanese name, and I—perhaps out of some selfish desire not to be reminded of the past—insisted on an English one. He finally agreed to Niki, thinking it has some vague echo of the East about it.” (9)
“Keiko, unlike Niki, was pure Japanese…” (10)

Niki is the second daughter of the Japanese main character and narrator Etsuko, fathered by her English husband. Niki’s mixed race, out-going personality, and her western influences serve as a foil to Keiko, Etsuko’s first daughter, who is fully Japanese and is seen as reclusive and aloof. Keiko commits suicide before the start of the novel, and the story revolves around the interactions between Etsuko and Niki after Keiko’s death, reflections on Keiko’s life, as well as Etsuko’s storytelling of Sachiko and Mariko—a mother-daughter pair in Japan who lives serve as a parallel between Etsuko and Keiko.

At the start of the novel, readers are given implicit references of Niki’s mixed-race heritage through descriptions of family dynamics, yet her brusque personality aligns more with western traditions rather than her Japanese lineage. While many mixed-race characters struggle between the two worlds of their races, Niki seems to drop her Asian background for a more “white-oriented” life, though Etsuko attempts to demonstrate Japanese life through Sachiko and Mariko’s story. Niki’s character seems to have much more urban, western qualities that Etsuko criticizes, such as Niki’s fast-paced walking, where Etsuko says ‘Niki, one supposes, has yet to learn the pleasures of walking for its own sake” (47) . Niki is also argued to be more selfish and “You mean you didn’t come to her funeral because she didn’t come to your father’s? Don’t be so childish, Niki” (52), though Niki retorts with explaining that Keiko was never truly part of their family due to her lack of involvement. While her child-like reactions aren’t necessarily “western”, Niki does not seem to have a grasp of her Japanese culture. While Etsuko attempts to show life in Japan through her storytelling to Niki, it is not clear if this truly changes Niki’s perspective of her lineage.

Interestingly, while the physical appearances of Niki and Keiko are not explicitly described in the story, they are shown as looking strikingly similar to one another, despite their different fathers and races. In an uncomfortable moment, Mrs. Waters, a family acquaintance, actually mistakes Niki for her late sister Keiko, saying “’Why hello, Keiko’—she touched Niki’s sleeve—‘I did not realize it was you’” (50). While Niki politely corrects Mrs. Water’s mistake—though without telling her of the suicide of her sister—this one and only physical description is powerful in that readers can understand that, physically, Niki must still look clearly Japanese, and may be subject to any societal constructs and judgments that Asians must deal with, even if they aren’t explicitly noted in the novel.



Character: Lirael

Author: Charlotte Turner

Text Source: Garth Nix, Lirael (2001)

Lirael, the heroine of this novel, is half Clayr and half Abhorsen.The Clayr are predominantly a race of women; tan, fair-haired, and light-eyed, they possess the ability to see into the future. The Abhorsen are pale, dark haired, heroic necromancers who lay the dead to rest.

Lirael is an outcast in the glacial region of the Clayr. She lacks the ability to See visions of the future, a gift that her heritage as a Clayr should have ensured her by adolescence. Because the Clayr view the Sight as a crucial rite of passage, she wears the long blue tunic of a child, as opposed to the white robes of the “adults”. She is also visibly set apart by her physical characteristics. (“Lirael hated sharing the mirror because it made yet another difference more obvious. Most of the Clayr had brown skin that quickly tanned to a deep chestnut out on the glacier slopes, as well as bright blond hair and light eyes. In contrast Lirael stood out like a pallid weed among healthy flowers. Her white skin burnt instead of tanning, and she had dark eyes and even darker hair.” (14) The pain of her situation nearly leads her to suicide, until she decides to work as Librarian in the often dangerous Library deep within the Glacier. She eventually discovers, however, that she possesses the ability to Remember—to Look into the past with the aid of a small mirror. Everything falls into place once Lirael discovers that she is half Abhorsen, and in fact the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, explaining both her inability to See and her propensity for matters regarding the Dead (“But I can’t  be!” exclaimed Lirael. “I mean, I don’t want to be. I’m a Clayr. I suppose I am a Remembrancer as well, but I am…I am a Daughter of the Clayr!” (473). Upon learning that she will never have the Sight, Lirael’s pervasive sense of otherness is finally, definitively confirmed. She is told, “You belong here,” among the Abhorsen, and that “Your Blood has made you what you are” (476). Lirael remains stunned by the revelation and struggles with her old feelings of wanting only to belong among the Clayr.

Lirael has interesting implications for mixed race studies. On the one hand, she is spared much of the obvious racism that mixed race people encounter and she inhabits a world that does not share our specific categorization of races, such as black or Asian. On the other hand, the discrimination that she experiences is no less painful or difficult for her to endure. She is routinely mistaken for a passing trader rather than a member of her own extended family and race (“Can I have your plate, please?” asked the unseen cousin behind the scullery hatch. “Oh, Lirael! I thought you were a visitor.” [20]). Her physical characteristics, so different from those around her, lead others to make misguided assumptions about her identity and routinely exclude her. She has no others that look like her, and that, coupled with more obvious differences (her lack of Sight) brands her as a definite outsider—one who initially finds solace in a place where her uniformity of dress and anonymity grant her some semblance of peace (the Library). Ultimately, Lirael has no choice but to identify with one side of her mixed heritage, although she possesses undeniable traits from both races. Even though her position draws from both sides, blood becomes destiny for her, and one heritage proves dominant over the other. She has no real agency in the matter and her identity develops as essentially predetermined.



Character: Beloved

Source Text:  Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Random House, 2004. Print. First Vintage International Edition.

Entry Author:  Lauren Cyr

Beloved is the daughter of Sethe, a runaway slave woman who suffered terrible abuse at a plantation named Sweet Home. After escaping from Sweet Home, Sethe traveled to her mother-in-law’s house in Cincinnati, eventually settling down to raise her children. However, she is found out by her master, who comes to her house in order to reclaim her and her children. Unwilling to return into a life of slavery, Sethe grabs her children and tries to kill them. The eldest child Beloved, is killed by Sethe, who cut open the child’s neck with a saw. Sethe claims to have been “trying to put my babies where they would be safe.”

After this event, Sethe returns to live in the house where the murder occurred. Although, the house has gained a new addition; the house remains haunted by the spirit of Beloved. The spirit moves objects around the room, flips tables and rattles chairs. Sethe’s two male children, as well as the house dog, are chased out of the house by the spirit. Her presence is destructive, yet tolerated by the members of the house. Beloved’s spirit reminds Sethe’s family of the horrors of slavery, and the need to address their traumatic past.

Once a friend of Sethe’s from Sweet Home shows up in Cincinnati and comes to stay with the house, Beloved’s spirit is apparently chased out of the house. The house goes quiet, and the ghost is believed to have moved on. However, at this point, a young black female is found sitting in front of the house, who calls herself “Beloved.”

Beloved is an animated corpse, or a physical embodiment of the ghost that has been terrorizing the household. Beloved’s physical hybridity takes on a cultural symbolism as well: she gives voice to the horrors of slavery, embodying the unknown collective unconscious voices of former slaves, and relaying their history from the time of the Atlantic passage onwards. She is representative of a past community, and expresses all the tendencies of rage and revenge for those who have died. Sethe is paralyzed by Beloved as the corpse feeds off of her body, emotionally draining Sethe.

The only way Beloved can be gotten rid of is through an act of exorcism by the community. The greatest role the African-American diaspora community has is to seek to heal its members from the traumatic experiences of their past. Therefore, in a climactic experience in the novel, the women of the community gather to perform an exorcism, to force out the demons of the past that have been haunting Sethe. When Ella, a member of the community finds out that the corpse of Beloved has been draining Sethe, she feels incredible outrage. As Ella says, “She didn’t mind a little communication between the two worlds, but this was an invasion” (Morrison 303). The outrage from the community comes from the fact that the past has become a body, physically tormenting Sethe’s life. Therefore it becomes the physical job of the community as a restorative force to begin an exorcism on behalf of Sethe.

About thirty women gather together outside of Sethe’s house and begin to pray and sing. The voices begin to blend together, drawing out Sethe and Beloved. This force of healing is so great that it forces Beloved out of Sethe’s life, exorcising the negative consuming influence of the past. The spirit of Beloved is seen as a necessary reminder of a traumatic past that must be dealt with by the individual; yet, when Beloved’s body changes into a physical being, her presence is too overwhelming and destructive, and must be communally dealt with.



Character: Roxanna

Source Text:  Twain, Mark, and R. D. Gooder. Pudd’nhead Wilson and Other Tales. Oxford [England: Oxford UP, 1992. Print.

Entry Author:  Shalyn Hopley

Roxanna, more often referred to as Roxy, is one-sixteenth black. Roxy is one of two mixed race characters at the center of Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson. Roxy is a slave, but “to all intents and purposes Roxy was as white as anybody, but her one sixteenth of her which was black outvoted the other fifteen parts and made her a negro,” (Twain 8). She is described as looking as white, but her mannerisms are fitting of a black slave. Roxy is the caretaker for two boys, her own son and the white son of her masters. Both children are indistinguishable without clothing by the master of the house. Roxy’s actions regarding the children are central to the plot of Twain’s novella. In a fit of panic about the possibility of her own child being sold “down the river”, Roxy decides to kill herself and her child. Before carrying out the act, she dressed both herself and her son in their finest clothing. Upon seeing her child, she realizes she can switch the children, which she does, and pass her son off as the master. The children, Tom, the master’s son, and Chambers, her own child, are given each other identities in infancy and it is this action that carries the novel forward.

Roxy is a complicated character, drawn complexly at the center of the complications of an illogical system of blood. Roxy eventually is freed by her master Driscoll and works her own way on a river boat. She watches Tom, who was originally Chambers, grow into a spoiled child who scorns her. She reveals to Tom his heritage, and they together concoct schemes, yet she is still betrayed by Tom who sells her back into slavery down the river. While Roxy’s actions are revolutionary and challenge the status quo on face value, they ultimately are problematic. Firstly her actions are not openly defiant, nor are they the most ethical. Her switch is like an “eye for an eye,” a child for a child. She condemns Chambers to a life of slavery and the possibility of being sold down the river. While she subverts the system by having a “black” child in the position of master and a white child in the position of slave, she has not found a means to truly affect change. She has made one individual change while the system remains intact. Additionally, her actions are ultimately righted with disastrous consequences for all involved. Tom is condemned to slavery, sold to the men to whom he owed gambling debts; Chambers rises into a class he is unable to fit into due to his upbringing; Roxy’s heart was broken by the misfortunes that have befallen her son and the child she condemned to slavery. Roxy may try to challenge the status quo in Dawson’s Landing but she is not successful, her actions producing no victories, the system of blood continued.



Character: Magiere

Source Text:  Gene Roddenberry, Hendee, Barb, and J. C. Hendee. Dhampir. New York: Roc, 2003. Print.

Entry Author:  Peter Murphy

“In the years before Leesil, all she had was loneliness, which turned to hardness, which turned to cold hatred of anyone superstitious. A mother she’d never known was long dead, and her father had abandoned her to a life among cruel peasants who punished her for being spawned by him. Why would she want to remember such things? Why would she want to look back? There was nothing worth concern in the past (Dhampir 214).”

Magiere is one of three protagonists in a low magic, low technology fantasy setting. She is a mix of vampire, a form of noble dead, and human in a world where humans and elves are the primary inhabitants. Other races exist or have existed, but operate outside the zone of society covered by the books.Her primary occupation is vampire hunting, an activity for which she was effectively bred. In the presence of vampires, she gains superhuman speed and strength as well as a sort of bloodlust. Prior to the start of the series, she works as a charlatan by pretending to slay vampires for superstitious villagers. She meets Leesil, a half-elf, and is inspired to journey with him, but rapidly finds kinship with him because he is similarly isolated from society. The two, along with a fey dog named Chap, slay vampires while searching for a greater understanding of their identities. Magiere, later in the series, finds that she is constructed from a ritual necessary to combine the living and dead.

Later, among the elves, she experiences considerable distrust and loathing for being a dhampir; the world is only now recovering from some apocalyptic event resulting from hordes of undead. With her vampiric heritage, Magiere represents to the elves, who still remember the danger posed by undead and especially “noble dead” who are capable of thought, the ultimate form of miscegenation. Magiere is frequently confronted by what it means to have her legacy and is required to grapple with the idea of part of her being parasitic. In the novel, there is little to be redeemed by most undead. The vampires she faces are required to kill people and obey the orders of their master, the individual who conscripted them into unlife, but many feel no moral complications from their life.

Magiere is noble, certainly, and loyal to her friends, but is not the typical adventurer. All she wants to do is settle down, but she is dragged to adventure by her urgent need for self-knowledge and her loyalty to Leesil. She is forward thinking, but compelled by the past.

Thomas Chambers


Character: Thomas Driscoll

Source Text:  Twain, Mark and Sidney E. Berger. Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins: Authoritative Texts, Textual Introduction and Tables of Variants, Criticism. New York: Norton, 2005.

Entry Author:  Jonah Beukman

Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson satirizes a culture in which titles and nobility hold significant value. The dominant culture in the novel, which is one of affluence and “whiteness”, is proven to be superficial and false. Twain indicts a society that equates whiteness with nobility and blackness with bad character and complicates this notion with Thomas Driscoll, who is mixed race; his identity is not fixed and his malevolence as a character cannot be linked to biological determinism. Both Tom and his brother Chambers are one-thirtysecond white, yet Chambers is made out to be a benevolent character, whereas Tom is seen as wicked. His role in the social and societal settings of the novel is that of an antagonist, seen mostly in the act of selling his mother, Roxana, down the river as a slave. Yet he is not entirely unsympathetic, and Mark Twain complicates the notion of Tom’s “wicked” identity being due to his race. Tom’s identity as a mixed-race character is put into question in the following passage:

It was the “nigger” in him asserting its humility, and [Tom] blushed and was abashed. And the “nigger” in him was surprised when the white friend put out his hand for a shake

with him. He found the “nigger” in him involuntarily giving the road, on the sidewalk, to the white rowdy and loafer. When Rowena, the dearest thing his heart knew, invited him

in, the “nigger” in him made an embarrassed excuse and was afraid to enter and sit with the dread white folks on equal terms. The “nigger” in him went shrinking and skulking here and there and yonder, and fancying it saw suspicion in all faces, tones, and gestures (49).

Mark Twain puts into question several dichotomies here which relate to mixed-race and mixed identity. He satirizes the notion that being black is synonymous with being meek and unassertive, while complicating Tom’s actions as a character. “The ‘nigger’ in Tom” refuses to acknowledge white individuals. He “involuntarily gives the road” to white individuals who are not necessarily worthy of his respect as an act of deference. The word involuntarily suggests that at least part of Tom’s identity is inherent regardless of race, despite Twain’s false and superficial claim that “blackness” is on par with being evil. Tom also refuses to accept Rowena, “the dearest thing [that] his heart knew” inside, indicating that his black identity satirically informs sexual meekness as well. Tom goes “shrinking and skulking here and there and yonder” as a further indicator of Twain’s indictment of the waywardness of Black individuals. Black individuals may be wayward, according to Twain, but Tom’s mixed race and his acknowledgment of the dual identities that comes from both his “white” and “black” identities make him a character that defies the status quo. Twain himself defies the status quo as an author here through Tom’s duality in identity, which represents a prototype in post-structuralist thought

Saleem Sinai


Character: Saleem Sinai

Source Text:  Rushdie, Salman. Midnight’s Children. 25th Anniversary ed. New York: Random House, 2006. .

Entry Author: Shalyn Hopley


Saleem Sinai is the illegitimate son of William Methwold, a white British officer, and Vanita, a poor Indian street performer’s wife. However, Saleem is born at the same moment as Shiva, the son of Amhed and Amina Sinai, a wealthy Kashmiri family moved to Bombay. Shiva and Saleem are switched at birth by Mary Pereira, and Saleem is raised as the Sinai’s son without them knowing. Saleem is the protagonist and narrator of Midnight’s Children yet his birth and the revelation of his mixed race heritage do not occur until about a fifth of the way through the book. The beginning portion of his story is spent describing his family history. Yet, with Saleem’s birth the audience discovers that this history is not that of his biological family but that of his unwitting adoptive family. Rather than tell the story of his poor Indian mother, his colonizing British father, and their extra-marital affair, he has chosen to tell the story of his Kashmiri family. Saleem interestingly acknowledges his mixed-race heritage and gives it a significant place in the story, including its revelation during one of the turning points of the novel—his birth, which coincides with the partition of Indian and Indian independence (132); still while acknowledging his mixed race parentage, he is privileging a monoracial identity, and even discounting the significance of his parentage saying “…there’s something more important than that. It’s this: when we eventually discovered the crime of Mary Pereira, we all found that it made no difference! I was still their son:  they remained my parents.” (131).Saleem’s mixed birth however cannot be so easily discounted in the significance to the story. Saleem’s status as a mixed race character and child who not truly his parent’s child is symbolic of the status of India at the time of his birth. He is the result of colonization, and evidence of an Indian divided by foreign powers who are on their way out. He speaks of himself and the other midnight’s children, “children were being born who were only partially the offspring of their parents—the children of midnight where also the children of the time:  fathered, you understand, by history.” Saleem, and his mixed heritage, becomes central to Rushdie’s allegorical tale of Indian independence.Saleem and his fellow Midnight’s children usher in a new period in India’s history, and in the novel, are granted with special abilities which destine them to stand out in both society and history. Much of Saleem’s personal history is interwoven with Indian history, his action being key to some of the wars in India. Eventually, his existence and that of his cohorts becomes central to Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. She declares the state of Emergency to imprison and sterilize the Midnight’s children, draining them not only of their reproductive abilities but their magical abilities and their hope (505). Her actions are tinged with a dark history of sterilizing the racial other, the undesirable elements of society so they and their progeny can no longer contribute to society. The power of the midnight’s children is intrinsically tied to their ability to reproduce, and so without powers and their ability to have children, they cannot affect the story of India. No longer connected to history, Saleem begins to fall apart, supposedly literally disintegrating at the young age of thirty-one.

Unborn Child


Character: Unborn Child

Source Text:  Banks, Russell. “Black Man and White Woman in a Dark Green Rowboat.” Trailerpark. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1981. 84-92. Print.

Entry Author:  Jonah Beukman

Russell Banks ends his short story “Black Man and White Woman in a Dark Green Rowboat” with the line “it was very hot, and no one said anything” (92), emphasizing silence and omission as the dominant tropes in the story.  The author hides the main plot point – the act of abortion – to the extent that it is made unclear and the titular characters fade into the background. Banks begins his story by setting the scene on the beach in the trailer park, emphasizing the barrenness of the setting and the mundane nature of the day. The main plot point of the story is never explicitly said, yet the reader must uncover what the two characters are speaking about by way of what is omitted.  The unborn child is central to the plot in that the child puts into question the status quo of the trailer park and the lives of the two main characters in ways that are obscured by the story itself.

If the unborn child had been born, the status quo – represented in the silent, repressed, and racist lives that those in the trailer park lead – would change forever.  Silence would have been impossible given the mixed-race child; one can even conjecture how the characters that Banks mentions at the beginning of the story could break free from repression and come alive to talk at length about the presence of the mixed race child. In Betsy Erkkila’s “Blood, Sex, and Other American Crosses”, the author writes the following about blood, saying that it was “a national fetish, a means of affirming political community, kinship, citizenship, and union at the same time that it became the grounds for exclusion, expulsion, negation, and extermination” (7). Though Erkkila is describing the fetishization of blood in the period of time following the Revolutionary War, the fact that mixed blood could be exclusionary and exterminatory is applicable to the period of time in which “Black Man and White Woman in a Dark Green Rowboat” is set, particularly in an insular community like the trailer park. The “mixed blood” of the child and the presence thereof would likely negate the silence and omission of what came before the child’s inception and lead to the physical expulsion of the two main characters from the park.

The lives of the two main characters are deeply affected by their decision to abort the unborn child, and abortion is suggested and represented in the short story in several ways. The reader is unsure what to pay attention to in the story—Banks comments on the color of the sky, the various murkiness and depth of the water, the act of fishing, and the color of the rowboat to suggest the act of abortion. Abortion is further suggested by the color of the rowboat—dark green—which conjures up images of vomit, excrement, sickness, and illness. Further, miscegenation is seen as a punishable act in the story as depicted in the fishing expedition, which serves as a metaphor for the sexual act. The black man is hurt when he attempts to plug up the tackle box, yet the white woman remains unscathed. The two characters and the trailer park as a whole repress their emotions and refuse to acknowledge the situation or their racist biases or attitudes (for example, the white woman’s father was said to “[hate] niggers” (88)). In refusing to acknowledge the act of abortion and the blood of the mixed race child, Banks offers a meditation on the presence and consequence of silence.


Works Cited

Erkkila, Betsy. “Blood Sex and Other American Crosses.” Mixed Bloods and Other Crosses: Rethinking American Literature from the Revolution to the Culture Wars. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2005. 1-36. Print.

James Fulton


Character: James Fulton

Source Text:  Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist (1999)

Entry Author:  

“I always knew they didn’t have the same daddy, but I didn’t know his (Fulton) was a white man.”
“Who else knows that Fulton was colored?”
“But he wasn’t who he was. He passed for white. He was colored.”
“Fulton’s hatred of himself and his lie of whiteness”

In Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, James Fulton is the elusive, sought after inventor of the Intuitionist school of thought and author of four renowned volumes on theoretical transport. Although he passes away prior to the start of the novel, his legacy leaves a haunting omniscience that leaves much to be uncovered and explored as the story unfolds. For protagonist Lila Mae, the first black female elevator operator praised for her keen intuiting abilities, the struggle to discover the man behind James Fulton and his confidential theory on the “black box” becomes a testament to Lila Mae’s own self discovery.

As a pioneer of intuitionist ideology Fulton’s presence in the novel is largely indirect and unobtrusive, seeping through the text in brief interludes during Lila’s moments of deep contemplation. Throughout the narrative, excerpts from Fulton’s “Theoretical Elevators” are caught between chapters, and introduce certain sections of the book, though most indiscreetly. Like Lila Mae, we as readers attempt to uncover the mystery behind Fulton’s largely allegorical concepts such as the “thin man convention” and the “Occupant’s Fallacy” (38). At first glance, Fulton’s ideology seems highly probably in conjunction with dry, repetitious elevator terminology. In fact, the fallacy of the thin or obese man who is not considered for the standard occupancy of a residential elevator of 12 passengers seems highly believable, however, we as readers fail to notice the undeniable parallel between the “thin man convention” and Fulton’s secret analogies hidden within the text.
Though we are given little information on the character or background of Fulton, aside from the acclaimed excerpts strewn about the novel, his message is far from audible. For Fulton, the black box is “the second elevation” in which there is “no need for safety devices because there is only up…” (182), which is, in its entirety, the perfect ascension is a gateway towards a classless society unconstrained by racial boundaries. However, Lila Mae’s discovery of Fulton’s mixed racial background towards the novel’s conclusion lends contextual significance to Fulton’s claim for vertical uplift. In fact, Fulton’s identity as a figure of mixed racial inheritance, the combination of a white father and black mother, completely alters the arrangement of the fixed, pre-existing social and political backdrop of the novel. Prior to Lila Mae’s discovery, The Intuitionist’s world of elevator inspection is a metaphorical representation for a society hindered by social division, each group designated and confined to their own “boxes”. The tension between the Empiricists, a selective group of dominant white alpha males who dedicate their professions to rationality and reason, and the intuitionists, the seemingly inferior competitor who treats inspection with passion and gut feeling, elicits a symbolic comparison to a more palpable reality of racial hierarchical divisions.

Fulton’s hidden identity has allowed him to pass in a society that if revealed, would have never allowed him access or authorship of such a highly revered position. Because he looks white, he passes as someone with unquestionable agency in the field of Intuitionism, and one that he uses in efforts to reimagine a system already established. Concealed by texts administered for Intuitionist training, Fulton’s theories were a reminder of “the hatred of the corrupt order of [the] world, the keen longing for the next one, its next rules.” (232) As Lila Mae is forced to interpret what she terms, “a big joke,” “the perfect liar that world made him, mouthing a supreme fiction the world accepted as truth,” the black box becomes less of an obtainable object. Rather, it imagines a means for a presently unimaginable society, a place that would have accepted Fulton no matter what color he was to the rest of the world.

Tom Marvolo Riddle


Character: Voldemort

Source Text:  Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter series. Bloomsbury, U.K.: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1997. Print.

Entry Author:  Elizabeth Valinski

Tom Riddle was a half-blood wizard born to a muggle man and female witch. While younger, he had black hair, dark eyes, tall and considered handsome. After regaining his body in the fourth book, he had pale skin, skull-like face, slits for nostrils, red eyes and a skeletal body with unusually long fingers.

Known as Lord Voldemort, he is the heir of Salazar Slytherin and considered the most powerful Dark Wizard of all time. His mother gave his father a love potion without him knowing, and when it wore off and his mother became pregnant with him, his father left. His mother died in childbirth, and he was sent to a muggle orphanage until he attended Hogwarts. According to the Headmaster Dumbledore, Tom Riddle was the most talented student. He appeared to be extraordinarily handsome and extremely polite. However, deep under he was cruel, manipulative, psychopathic, and downright evil. He is soon called “Voldemort.”

Voldemort is the most hated wizard of all times because of his ideas and actions. He thought that purebloods should rule the Wizarding World, and was against muggles ever stepping foot there. Ironically, he is a half-blood, and his lack of accepting of who he really is eventually leads to his downfall. He is devoid of human responses as well as emotions and gets off murdering people, especially muggles, for fun.

“Voldemort: “You do not seek to kill me, Dumbledore? Above such brutality, are you?”
Dumbledore: “We both know there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom. Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit.”
Voldemort: “There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!”
Dumbledore: “You are quite wrong. Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness.” (Order of the Phoenix)”

He is a key character because he is constantly striving to become all-powerful and advocates for pure-bloods only, but it is ironic because he struggles with accepting who he really is: a half-blood. It’s interesting to see the struggles of a mixed race human through magical realism. Voldemort wants to be heard and yearns for respect, but because of his inability to accept his mixed race, he becomes defensive and channels his frustration and anger through his murderous actions.