Abnesti’s Profanity

After reading Escape From Spiderhead, I was in awe with the complex characters that occupied the story. Each character was completely fleshed out, even though it was only a short story. One poignant example was Abnesti. I think that Abnesti is an incredibly intriguing character, mainly because, regardless of his undeniable monstrosity, he is convinced that he is a good person. To me, the most interesting portrayal of this dimension of his personality was his refusal to swear. His usage of appropriate terms of exasperation instead or profane ones showed that he is completely convinced of his own goodness. The ridiculous extent of his appropriate swears, for example, “‘Jeff, you’re totally doinking with our experimental design integrity'” (Saunders 63), expresses his self-image. He thinks of himself as a goofy, appropriate, good guy. He’s a family man, who buys his subjects cream from the store, who doesn’t swear, and does things in the name of science. His abhorrent actions, his murder of Heather, none of those mean that he is a bad person. He’s a good guy because he doesn’t say potty words.

2 thoughts on “Abnesti’s Profanity


    Hi Willa 0_0

    I think this was an interesting analysis of the diction used to convey more subtle themes in the story. I think Saunders develops his characters thoroughly (like you said) without much direct characterization, description, or dialogue. I guess this would be the literary equivalent of this notion in film and cinema of visual storytelling. I think of the Virgin Suicides most prominently. The girls don’t speak much, they are mysterious and there is so much we don’t know about them – but the camera shots, the details of hyper feminine ephemera, the composition it all tells the story. And I guess Saunders does that with the artistry and construction of words – if that makes sense?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elijah J

    I think you’ve captured a large part of how Saunders builds authentic stories by focusing on believable and realistic characters. I like the way you focused on how Abnesti is framed as a good person, when in reality he is a monster. Societal norms might dictate having kids, not swearing, and doing simple acts of kindness as what qualifies someone as a good person, but fundamentally those are all window dressing. What determines whether or not you’re a good person is not how polite or put together you are, but instead your capacity to feel compassion. Your ability to recognize the humanity in others. Without this mutual recognition of humanity, both individuals are robbed of it. In failing to recognize the humanity of others, you rob yourself, while if you go unrecognized, you are also robbed.

    Liked by 1 person

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