Cinder is the main character in the first installment of a four-part series of fairytale retellings titled The Lunar Chronicles. And as you can probably guess, Cinder is the retelling of Cinderella, but with a futuristic twist. In this world there are princes, evil queens, genetically engineered wolves, and peasants that go from rags to riches, gaining power and becoming heroes.
Cinder is a resented sixteen-year-old cyborg, living with her stepsisters and evil stepmother. People view her under a lens of prejudice because she is “less than human,” incapable of blushing and crying, but most of all because she possesses some advantages as a result of her technologically enhanced body. She has the ability to tell when someone is lying, and her brain can download information from the Internet. She is also an exceptionally skilled mechanic and is revealed to be a lost princess that has to help save Earth from an evil queen.
From a post humanism stand point, I would say Cinder is a post human cyborg heroine. She is constantly under construction, physically and internally. Her opinions of the world around her, the relationships she forges, and even her cybernetic parts are in constant flux throughout the story. Her character arc is very dynamic and she is heavily affected by the actions and words of other characters in her group. She lives in a world that devalues being a cyborg, but I believe that her character will inform a change towards post humanistic thinking in the end.
Additionally, our class discussed last session about what makes people cyborgs, and I feel that Cinder’s story cuts to the core of this question. In the first book, Cinder is revealed as 36.28% cyborg, therefore 36.28% not human. And when she loses her “shoe” at the ball – It’s actually her cybernetic foot, causing her to fear the outcry of a prince being on friendly terms with a cyborg.
As a child, Cinder was in a terrible accident where her body was burned and some of her limbs destroyed. The operation that made her a cyborg gave her a chance to live a “normal” life, and it allowed her to walk – to live. In the “Body Boundaries Issues” reading, Wright states, “The cyborg entity cannot be born, because it isn’t biological, but instead it is made; it can only be replicated through a combination of cultural, technological, and biological practices.” So in terms of this passage, this means Cinder’s society is right in saying that Cinder is no longer human. She has been made something else entirely through technology and biology, but this brings up the following questions…
If we had cyborgs like Cinder in our society, do you think people would treat them as second-class citizens, treat them as normal people, or would we see them in a more positive light? Do you think that the reason people are so hostile toward cyborgs in this world is because they pose some kind of actual threat, or is it more due to the fact that they are different? Because this world devalues being a cyborg, does that mean the world is built on humanism? Or because people rely on technology like tablets, are they just unknowingly post humanistic thinkers… maybe even hypocrites?