On Antitheses & Power

“There was, [Katherine] knew, a double-standard in the Giggs house, whereby everything she did, good or bad, would be applauded by her father, while Mike was only criticized. The fact that Mike invariably deserved it did not mitigate this injustice…Mike could have changed this metaphysic by not always fucking up, but that much seemed beyond him.” (72)

This passage really got me thinking about the ways in which power is portrayed in the novel, especially now that I have some background knowledge on the major characters. Power, conceptually, does not appear to be easily granted to civilians in this society unless they are affluent, as the Giggs family is, and even then, as the above quote suggests, the sort of power that people can wield is split into types. As a RedBlack, Mike is in a position of great power, a portion of society feared by many, especially given that many of them share the same ruthless attitude. However, Mike is somewhat clumsy in handling this power, both as a RedBlack and as a general bully; he is strong, but not intelligent, and that is his greatest vice. Katherine, on the other hand, has no such influence, but has mental capacities that her brother does not; though she is not so malicious as the RedBlacks, her cunning would certainly be an asset in that kind of setting.

We find a similar dichotomy of power types between Morgan and his father: the Bird Man, as he is called, is capable of manipulating birds in the way that his son Morgan cannot, even being able to control them against his wishes. What Morgan lacks gift-wise he makes up for in spirit, always eager to fight, whereas Zvominir is, in a word, submissive despite his great abilities. It is interesting to me that, while the line drawn between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” is well defined in The Avian Gospels, the intricacies of its dynamic of power complicates the task of separating who is strong and who is weak, who is likely to “prevail” (and what exactly prevailing entails) and who is forced to step down from a metaphorical pedestal as a result.

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