The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Ok, here’s the stuff I want to rant about.

1. Eating the meat of the innocents

After Marc and Emilio are taken captive after the massacre of the Runa, Marc is horrified that they are feeding them the meat from the slaughtered Runa. Who cares?

I know this isn’t an opinion shared by 99.99% of humanity but I’m not a moral relativist when it comes to meat. Once you make a decision to eat muscle tissue, why does it matter where it comes from? If I was stranded in the mountains I’d be the first person advocating cannibalism because why let all that free meat go to waste? I’ve never understood the problem. And the fact that they are eating the Runa babies? Everyone knows that the young are the most tender. Anyone who has ever eaten chicken can’t get on their high horse about that one.

2. Rape

As soon as she wrote that Emilio was found in a brothel, I figured he was being held captive and raped for the enjoyment of the Jana’ata. I can’t figure out how this was supposed to be some kind of surprise at the end of the book. All the priests seem to think that he became a prostitute for the fun of it or something. I don’t understand. The closest I can find to an explanation is this quote from when he is telling the story and one of the priests needs to leave the room because it is upsetting him.

“It’s human nature. He wanted it to be some mistake I made that he wouldn’t have made, some flaw in me he didn’t share, so he could believe it wouldn’t have happened to him.

Is it because the priests are male that they can’t conceive of being raped? Is it because they are celibate that they think that this priest went off and got all the sex he could as soon as no one was looking?

2 Replies to “SPOILERS for The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell”

  1. I so rarely find someone who feels the same way I do about cannibalism not being morally problematic.

    I think the shock was supposed to be about the concept that a man would be raped. However, my feeling at the time was that the shock was how Sandoz was no longer a man of faith. He had been revered by his peers as a man who was fully devoted to God. For him to have lost his faith would have a profound effect, especially given that the society probably saw his return as a plus, something that would resurrect their own failing influence in the contemporary world.

    But I read it ages ago so maybe I don’t remember the details fully.

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