Welcome to the second week of Lunarthon! This week, we’re reading chapters 13-25 of Cinder and looking at the treatment of cyborgs and Lunars in the world of the Lunar Chronicles.
This week’s chapters begin with Cinder re-negotiating her position with Dr. Erland after having been forcibly volunteered for medical experimentation as part of the cyborg draft. That the cyborg draft – a law which demands that cyborgs forfeit their lives in an attempt to find a cure for Letumosis – could exist in a world we’re told again and again is at peace, is one of the most terrifying and classically dystopian parts of the Lunar Chronicles series.
As a cyborg, Cinder views herself as 36.28% not human. Which, of course, is ridiculous – an amputee isn’t only human when they’re not wearing their prosthetic. A deaf person with cochlear implants doesn’t suddenly become something inhuman every time they’re switched on. In the first twelve chapters of Cinder we saw Cinder cast out by her adoptive family, stripped of her rights and almost killed, all because of her cyborg status. And yet, despite her subjection to prejudices against cyborgs, in chapters 13-25 we see Cinder grappling with prejudices she has never thought to question – her own prejudices against Lunars.
The thought of Queen Levana coming to New Beijing had twisted her stomach – the thought of dozens, maybe even hundreds of Lunars living on Earth and impersonating Earthens nearly had her running for the sink.
Cinder doesn’t just view herself as the Other, she also thinks of Lunars – who we’re told are not aliens, but the descendants of Earthen settlers – as inhuman. Cinder’s bigotry against Lunars shows us how complex discrimination can be. Someone who has suffered from discrimination can still discriminate against others; someone well-meaning, like Kai or his father, the Emperor, can still contribute to discrimination in ways they’ve never thought to question. Unlearning discrimination is a slow process, and in these chapters, we see Cinder unlearning her prejudice of Lunars with the discovery that she herself is one.
To be cyborg and Lunar. One was enough to make her a mutant, an outcast, but to be both? She shuddered. Lunars were a cruel, savage people. They murdered their shell children. They lied, and scammed and brainwashed each other because they could. They didn’t care who they hurt, so long as it benefitted themselves. She was not one of them.
Cinder’s preconceived ideas of Lunars are tested as she comes to terms with this new part of her identity, and learns more about the plight of her people from Dr. Erland, who, although untrustworthy is not cruel or savage as she expected. But discrimination which is so prevalent in everyday society that it has become normalised is that much harder to break, and Cinder’s shame at the thought of being both cyborg and Lunar still affects her in small ways; leading her to turn down Kai’s invitation to the ball.
Cyborg. Lunar. Mechanic. She was the last thing he wanted.
Next week, we’ll be looking at Cinder’s character development in the last part of the novel, and how her attitude towards her cyborg and Lunar identity changes.
Let us know your thoughts on cyborg and Lunar discrimination in the Lunar Chronicles, and join us next week for our discussion of chapters 26-38 of Cinder!