The last blog post about Juliette demonstrated how she was a feminist, and how the book itself did a good job of giving her the strength to fight for her rights as a person. She doesn’t back down to anyone, and refuses to be used as a weapon.
As stated in the first blog post, Shatter Me is a book series about a girl named Juliette who has a lethal touch – meaning, she can’t touch anyone without killing them or horribly injuring them. Her parents locked her away in an asylum after she killed a young boy, where she suffered alone for three years until she was rescued from the gorgeous yet psychopathic boy named Warner who wants to use her as a weapon for the Reestablishment, the form of Government in this society. As one can imagine, Juliette isn’t so fond of Warner’s plans for her, so she escapes and in the first book, shoots Warner with his own gun, effectively ending the first book.
Now that the story has been recapped, we can move on. [If you’re looking for more plot insight on the book, read this: click here]
In the world that this series takes place in, there are two different classes: the rich, and the poor. The rich are basically a part of the Reestablishment, which is a Government run by the military. In the book, this is shown through Juliette’s fleeting memories of her old life, before the asylum. She lived a poor life, but now that she is under the care of the Reestablishment, she has been gifted the finest dresses, and she dines on the finest foods. Her attitude towards this lavish life style leads the reader into believing that the world outside of the Reestablishment is not so lavish, but rather the opposite. And then, when Juliette runs away, she describes the life style of those in the compound, and it is not so pretty.
So, what is Marxism? It’s basically an analysis of class relations, how the society works, and social ownership. So, who is in power? And how does this hold the society together? How do the different classes interact, and how are they different from each other? Questions like these can be asked when analyzing Marxism.
Now, the first scene I’d like to examine for Marxism is when Warner shows his power above everyone by killing one of his soldiers. This basically is promoting the power the Reestablishment has as well over everyone and everything, as well as instills fear into all the other soldiers. The Reestablishment relies heavily on fear and military power, and the members of this government are not afraid to kill. Anyone who is a rebel or even thinking of rebelling against the Reestablishment will be killed. This is not exactly friendly, but what would you expect from a government that kidnaps a girl and wants to use her as a weapon?
The Reestablishment isn’t playing around.
Now of course, people may be wondering why this government came into power in the first place, which is a valid question. Of course, like in most dystopian novels, the world was going through a hard time, and the Reestablishment swooped in, promising the fix the problems of the world and make it great again.
Sounds familiar, right? (and this theme seems to be surpassing dystopian novels and moving on to Presidential candidates).
Well, of course, the Reestablishment had other plans, let the power get to their heads, and now they’re in charge of everything. The money, the food, the fine clothes, etc. This government holds power over everything in the world. The town that Juliette escapes to even has curfew. Curfew. What is this, V for Vendetta? 1984? Because honestly, curfews are an apparent theme in governments thriving with power over their people.
But moving back to the scene where Warner brutally kills a soldier on sight, in front of the other soldiers. It takes place in chapter 17, and Warner clearly does this in front of everyone to prove a point, the keep the fear intact, and to put on display for everyone that betrayal will not be tolerated. The reason why I want to analyze this from a Marxist point of view is because of how the class structure in the Reestablishment work and relate. Warner, the top dog of that certain sector, has military men who work for him. In order to keep power, he shoots those who betray the government, and he does it in a public speculation in order to keep that power alive. To show others that he is in charge and he’s not afraid to use a gun, despite his age. He may be 19, but he’s not afraid to kill those twice his age. This is important for the government to stay intact, in this book. Without this fear, the Reestablishment would cease to exist, due to the unpopular ruling of the government.
Even when killing the man, Warner is cold. “Delalieu speaks again. “Private Fletcher was found on unregulated grounds, fraternizing with civilians believed to be rebel party members. He had stolen food and supplies from storage units dedicated to Sector 45 citizens. It is not known whether he betrayed sensitive information.” Warner levels his gaze at the gingerbread man. “Do you deny these accusations, soldier?” Fletcher’s nostrils flare. His jaw tenses. His voice cracks when he speaks. “No, sir.” Warner nods. Takes a short breath. Licks his lips. And shoots him in the forehead” (Mafi).
The next scene I would like to analyze is when Juliette has escaped the Reestablishment, and is living with Adam and his younger brother, James. This is when the reader gets an insight into the world outside of the Reestablishment, and how different it is from the rest of the book. Since the beginning, the reader knows that the Reestablishment is wealthy and fancy, with lavish clothes and food, fancy china and rooms, everything. But now, the reader has insight into the rest of the world, where houses are small, people share rooms, real food is a thing of the past, and curfews exist to keep the society ‘safe’.
Basically, the Reestablishment has taken everything away to make it seem like the world is still suffering when in fact, the Reestablishment has control of everything, and with that control, can eliminate variables. This gives the Reestablishment the power to slowly release food, as if a banana is a luxury when in fact, the Reestablishment is eating three course meals daily.
The reason I want to analyze this scene through Marxism is again, because it shows the stark differences between the two classes, and shows how in control the Reestablishment really is. People think a curfew is in place to keep them safe, but is this true? The people think that real food is gone, and a luxury. This isn’t true, at all.
The unofficial motto of the Reestablishment seems to be ‘keep the citizens dumb and they won’t think to uprise’.
A peek into how this story explains this control is here, in chapter 32: “[James] pulls the lid off the tinfoil container to reveal a small square. It looks like a bouillon cube. He points to the cube and then nods at the microwave… ‘It takes the molecular composition of the food and multiplies it.’ Adam is standing beside me. ‘It doesn’t add any extra nutritional value, but it makes you feel fuller, longer.’ ‘And it’s cheap!’ James says, grinning as he sticks it back in the contraption. It astounds me how much has changed. People have become so desperate they’re faking food” (Mafi).
It’s obvious that to Juliette, who knows the truth, that this is absurd. She’s amazed and shocked that someone can be so blind. And because Adam doesn’t seem to be upset over it, this shows that perhaps even Adam doesn’t know how lavish the Reestablishment really is. That he knows the Reestablishment is bad, and isn’t helping things, but it seems obvious that even Adam doesn’t know the true realities of the Reestablishment and their lies.
And what about Juliette? How does she factor in, culturally? Well, in this first book, the reader gets a sense of a spitfire girl who has super strength, a lethal touch, and a determination to fight for her rights. She sees what is wrong with the government and the world, and is set on stopping the Reestablishment. She’s important because she comes from a poor community and from a family who struggles to understand her, her powers, and how to handle her. She’s tossed around, unloved, and abandoned. This is extremely relatable, as many young adults feel the impossible task of getting adults to understand and accept them, whether that be about a lethal touch or something like who you love. The need and want to be accepted by someone is important to her, as it is to many young adults today. She feels isolated and unloved. Juliette also has the chance to get back at her parents, but turns it down because she’s the better person, the stronger person. And this again is important culturally because it shows that despite how she was treated, Juliette isn’t seeking revenge. She’s seeking acceptance. And acceptance doesn’t always come through revenge.
So, is Shatter Me really all about the different classes and how they interact? I think yes. This is a huge part of the book and the story, and without this power play between citizen and government, things would be completely different. Perhaps Juliette wouldn’t have been put away. Perhaps she wouldn’t have had to shoot Warner in order to escape. And perhaps, the world wouldn’t have elected the Reestablishment in the first place.