In the Pyre of Envy, second book of the Scarleton Series, we find a range of two types of important issues being explored. One pertains to the larger arch of the series as a whole and one is central to the book itself.
Scarleton isn’t only a fictional town based in South Africa,it is representative of a lot of issues. It is worth noting that the South Africa in the novel isn’t exactly South Africa as we know it. It is highly fictionalized to my needs and purposes. The geography of Scarleton isn’t important, at least so far in the series, but it is situated in a coastal province, two hours away from the Indian Ocean at best. The second book in the Scarleton Series explores a country, South Africa, riddled with corruption, nepotism and unemployment (hang on, that part sounds a lot like the current South Africa). The gap between the rich and the poor is wide. Foreign investment policies and intervention has benefited those in positions of power and the rich, leaving the majority of the population grappling for scraps. The economic situation strips the general population of their autonomy, a chance at self-actualization and self-determination. As a result, their focus is mainly on surviving, making ends meet. While the upper classes basks in freedom, a plethora of options and opportunities that is acquired at the expense of the population and without real merit but an exploitation of people for centuries. The middle class works as virtual slaves, nothing they do is in line with what they would have loved to do with their lives, which would have been fine if it was out of necessity. But it isn’t out of necessity or a tragedy, as the situation the economy finds itself in is largely orchestrated, artificial and stems from a system which allocates power to the upper classes. The working class are nothing more than disposal, they have it the worst. This economic situation is not something the general population is educated about as a result of propaganda and public opinion manipulation. However, this isn’t a novel about a class struggle or a revolution. It is a story of the things that desperate people are driven to do in a society where there is an absence of justice. People devoid of any real autonomy, a chance at self-actualisation and self-determination. Autonomy equals dignity, self-actualisation equals wholeness/happiness/self-fulfilment and self-determination equals freedom to choose.
Pyre of Envy In The Grand Scheme of Things
Pyre of Envy carries on the tradition of developing characters that are morally questionable from the first book of the Scarleton Series, Before the Cult. This is to be expected since these characters , generally, don’t have the psychological tools or skills to make better choices. These characters aren’t going to do anything creative or out of the ordinary (what they do is typical) in their search for what they feel they are owed by society (what they feel is just). It is more of a story of how they go about it and their reasons. The book explores and follows a version of the archaic concept of justice and fairness, an-eye-for-an-eye form of justice (I know the first thing that pops in a person’s mind is revenge, but it is a little bit more complex than that). What we end up having is the philosophical logical conclusion of this type of justice. We also have the Pyre of Envy sparking some of the moral questions which will form the crux of the third book in the series. The book also illustrates how mental illness is not only a disease of the individual but is also a disease which affects others. If you have a sibling with a mental illness you will know that it alters the relationships at home and becomes not only a problem which affects the sufferer but it is also something which affects family dynamics as a whole. The book takes this phenomenon further in an attempt to show that mental illness is not only a family problem but is a problem that can extend to affect societies in large. That these issues should concern societies because they can and they do affect societies, they can’t be taken lightly or dealt with poorly through ignorance, bigotry and stigma. The Scarleton books always work threads of themes together, Pyre of Envy sets the stage for the third book where a lot of the issues regarding mental illness and it’s relation to society take center stage, this does not mean these issues aren’t being dealt with in the Pyre of Envy. Just happens in the Pyre of Envy they don’t have as much prominence as the quest for self-determination, autonomy and a chance at self-actualization does.
To think that this is a politicized book would also be mistaken, like Before the Cult the book is interpersonally involved. It’s about the people who find themselves into these situations; people directly & indirectly affected by the range of issues I have talked about in this post.
I’m currently at 61K words for a Pyre of Envy, which is a tad ahead of schedule. This is surprising considering I lost a week worth of work due to being sick, I continued to be sick for subsequent weeks, but I could cram in some work in random sprouts of energy.
Thanks for reading.
If you like anything you have heard so far, pre-order Pyre of Envy (Scarleton Series II) at iBooks and Barnes & Noble. The good news is that all books of the Scarleton Series can be enjoyed alone as stand-alone novels, so the first book isn’t a pre-requisite although it would be more fun to get that as well.
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