The theme of Heroinism in “Shadowshaper”

The theme of Heroinism in “Shadowshaper”

Shadowshaper is a young urban fantasy written by composer, activist, and a former paramedic Daniel Jose Older.  The novel is set in modern-day Brooklyn and features the main character Sierra Santiago who is a skater and painter.  Sierra is an African and Puerto-Rican descent residing in New York.  The author features Sierra as a teen protagonist who murals started taking the life of on their own. The focus of the book was to find truth lying in the intersection of spirits, life, culture, and death.  The author employs old mythologies to find the blend between the modern twist and the reality of marginalized people who are empowered in the current world. The paper seeks to analyze why Daniel Jose in “Shadowshahper” used issues of gender, socioeconomic, and race to identify and establish his heroine.

Gender

Gender pertains to diverse characteristics that pertain and differentiate between femininity and masculinity that is dependent on factors such as sex-based social structures and biological sex, and gender identity. Daniel Jose nailed sensibilities and the voice of a teenage girl (Sierra) who is vulnerable and struggle with attaining her self-image. The issue of gender is used in the book to portray the confidence of Sierra and the message the society is telling her concerning the perception of women in society (Older, pp. 54-57). Sierra is a refreshing and compelling hero who has a fro stretched splendidly around her in the stupendous and unbothered halo.

The writer of this particular novel identifies that gender is not a hindrance to the appointment of responsibilities in society. Sierra, a girl, is tasked with the responsibility of painting a dragon on a building with the intent of showing the dissatisfaction of the people.Manysocieties held and currently hold a belief of gender roles, for instance, that responsibilities such as painting are associated with males (Older, pp, 55-60). However, in a bid to identify that roles associated with men can be done by women, the writer of the novel, puts sierra at the center of the responsibility. Also, Daniel older develops a scenario whereby, the men and women in the society, makes his work easier by suggesting the painting that she would put up. Consequently, Sierra, a girl, is used by her community as its voice (Domino, pp. 74). The painting suggestion is used as a communication mode to the purported administration, to show that they are not happy or satisfied.

According to the novel, her grandfather’s generation believed that women should be offered protection from outside sources of their fates. These beliefs and practices had also been passed down to her mother’s generation. This is why sierra’s mother asks her not to believe a word her grandfather says regarding shadowshapers. Additionally, the society believed that women could not be shadowshapers thus, her mother and grandfather were not ready to tell her of her fate. Assignment of his granddaughter,to paint a mural on a building, hinders him from protecting her further from her fate and he asks her to complete the painting fast and he also offers her a name of a boy (Robbie) who would help her (Older, pp. 212-224). Fromher actions and the painting, as a shadowshaper, she is expected to protect other shadowshapers from the wick, who killed them or facilitated their disappearance. Eventually, sierra defeats wick (Older, pp. 225-226). The writer, thus, uses a woman character to protect and save the shadowshapers in her society. This is an indication that the empowerment of women, result in outcomes similar to those attained by men. Therefore, the issue of gender should not be considered during the role assignment.

Socioeconomic

The issue of socioeconomic is used by the writer to identify sierra as a heroine, through her relationships and encounters in her social circle. The socioeconomic aspect of life refers to the social part of life that is shaped and also affected by the economic activities of individuals (Older, pp. 162-163). The writer of this particular novel identifies that the various activities carried out in his fictitious community contributed tothe improvement of their social and economic status. Therefore, the writer of the novel intends to show that the issue of socioeconomic is significant to the existence of human beings. In reference to the community identified, socioeconomic issues contribute to building relationships between individuals.

People in the same level of economic status are seen to relate amongst themselves, therefore, creating social circles amongst them. According to the novel, Manny, is a newspaper editor as well as he is the Domino King while sierra’s grandfather was a shadowshaper(Diaz, pp. 88-102). These positions held by these individuals in their community makes them hold high social and economic status. Resultantly, the two create a good relationship that goes beyond times. Sierra, lands the responsibility of painting as a result of the good relationship between her grandfather and Manny, thus her character and identity are clearly realized.

On the other hand, thesocioeconomic issue has been used to capture the lifestyle of sierra and her friends, despite the responsibilities that are ahead of her (Older, pp. 159-161).  Generally, parties are held by individuals who are at the same level of economic and social status.Parties are also held to ensure that the participants create stronger relations and identities for the sake of their social circles. From the novel, it is identified that sierra and her classmates decide to hold a party. It is outright that the party would not be successful if the participants were not at the same level of thought and holding similar values.The writer of the book, brings out that at the party all the children are interested in similar things. Therefore, they spend their time discussing the mysteries that sierra had gathered from her grandfather(Older, pp.212-224). It is during this particular social gathering does, corpse that looks like a zombie appears and chases sierra through Brooklyn streets. Thecorpse signals out sierra, as an indication that she was different from other children and that she had extraordinary power.  Throughthis particular turn of events, the writer of the novel uses the issue of socioeconomic to identify, sierra as his heroine.

Race

            Thestory given in the novel is given to catch a glimpse of the involvement of different races in similar activities. Real-life studies show that race is an issue that mankind has not been in a position to deal with in a bid to identify equality. However, the writer of the novel creates a scenario whereby the main participants hail from different races, and the relationships they have created is a power to reckon with. From the novel, it is identified that the action takes place in Brooklyn in New York City. The characters featured are sierra and a mixed-race girl. She is an African and Puerto-Rican. Robbie, on the other hand, from Haitian descent and the librarian who helps her during her research of shadowshapers is also a Puerto-Rican (Older, pp. 80-90).  New York is known to harbor people from other races such as Africans, English men, Indians among others. In a situation whereby the English culture is present it is seeming seen as the dominant culture. Therefore, the main achievements are tied to the English people.  However, the writer of the novel tends to move away from the norm.

He identifies a girl from a minority group and makesher a main character who achieves all the things she has been sent to attain.  In addition, the novel shows that she does not achieve these things alone or through the involvement of the people from her family or race. Herachievements are tied to the contribution of other people from other races that are present in her community (Older, pp. 200-220). it is clear that the issue of race has been used to override [the present belief that only people from a particular and dominant race can be successful, rather, minority groups also can achieve greatness. additionally, not many cultural practices believe in the aspect of magic. magicians have not appreciated thus races that portray their beliefs in magic are often ousted and discriminated against(Diaz, pp. 88-102). however, the novel shows the opposite of reality. the magicians (shadowshapers) are appreciated and also their activities receive paramount support from other people in the society despite their race or ethnicity.  In that case, the race is not used as an element of division or a discriminatory element rather it has been used as a unifying factor, and as an aspect that the writer has used to identify his heroine.

Works Cited

Diaz, E. “The art of Afro-Latina consciousness-raising in Shadowshaper.” Nerds, Goths, Geeks, and Freaks, 2020, pp. 88-102, doi:10.2307/j.ctvz93772.11.

Older, Daniel J. Shadowshaper (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 1). Scholastic Inc., 2015.

Older, Daniel J. “Shadowshaper. Arthur A.” (2015).

Domino, P. “Afuerxs and Cultural Practice in Shadowshaper and Labyrinth Lost.” Nerds, Goths, Geeks, and Freaks: Outsiders in Chicanx and Latinx Young Adult Literature (2020): 74.

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