Zoomorphism in Utopia

 

 

cockroach

photo: https://khyatiratanblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/do-cockroaches-have-souls/

To equate a group of people into less-than human, to make them seen as animals is one of the classic strategies used in racism, and to a greater extreme, genocide. Hitler often described Jews as parasites. This very practice is seen throughout Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s novel Utopia. The Others and those living in Utopia use animal metaphors to represent the other, with cockroaches being one of the most prevalent metaphors presented. The Others tend to be viewed as animals throughout the novel. The way they are forced to scrounge for food evokes images of animals. The way The Others are literally hunted for sport by those in Utopia. Alla and Germinal lure their victims in with a hamburger the way I get my dog to come in by offering her a treat. It’s much easier for people to harm, or even kill, people when they are viewed as less than human. When describing The Others, Alla says “This flight of yours is no different from a cockroach fleeing on the kitchen wall, or an amoeba sliding under the lens of a microscope” (4). Alla isn’t even equating The Others to animals at this point but to an amoeba. And how easy is it for people to hunt deer? For some to hunt other large animals? How easy is it for most of us to step on an ant, to kill a cockroach lurking in your kitchen? Imagine how much easier it would be to dispose of something not even containing a consciousness. This is how Alla and the people of Utopia justify treating The Others. It’s the oldest trick in the book when it comes to the justification of hurting others. The people of Utopia have convinced themselves that The Others deserve the pain they live in. They truly believe they deserve to be hunted.

 

When it comes to The Others, it does feel they’re living off instinct, mostly. They’re so busy trying to survive in their harsh environment, there isn’t much time or room to behave in ways we, or the people from Utopia, consider humane.  There’s filth everywhere, food is scarce. There’s disease and hardship. Their lives are short, painful and difficult, so of course they resort to sometimes acting with animal instincts. But, they are not animals. They are not amoeba. They are human and that’s what the people of Utopia do not want to believe. The same could be said for any group “othering” another. None of us are born superior or inferior based on money, comfort or boarders. We are all human, no matter how different form one another we may appear.

 

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