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Liberation: The act or process of trying to achieve equal rights and status.  The ideal of liberation is at the center of every feminist’s heart and the goal that we strive for.  Whether it’s freeing yourself within the jungle, attaining the right to hunt, or the liberation of the mind when you realize how much more there is, liberation is often what it takes to induce change.

In Karen Joy Fowlers’ short story “What I Didn’t See”, the female protagonist is missing a huge piece in her view of the world.  I don’t think that this is a story so much meant to be about the oppression of women, but the oppression of the self.  It’s a very accurate portrayal of women, and humans for that matter.  We have a tendency to get so wrapped up in our cause that we end up consumed by ourselves and we stop seeing other options.  We are creatures of purpose and I think that once we have a goal, we strive to attain only it, which is unfortunate in the sense that our one track minds don’t always allow us to keep our perspectives as wide as they could be.

“I’ve learned some things in the years since, so there’s a strong temptation now to pretend that I felt the things I should have felt, knew the things I might have known.” (Fowler)  This piece of science fiction reminded me of our discussion in class about inclusiveness.  The idea of the middle class white woman protesting, and then realizing the disabled woman and the black woman are also being discriminated against in the same way.  When she finds the family of gorillas she remarks how she is surprised by how human they are.  She also tells us that she would free the woman and child gorilla.  Her realization that the lives of the gorillas are more important than just game reveals her previous perception of them when she did not regard them as anything close to equals (she was morally superior and therefore has every right to shoot them).

The situation with Beverly and how it is left up to interpretation that she ‘liberated’ herself and went to live in the jungle shows the narrow perception of the narrator.  When her husband reveals everything that happened after she left, she has an ‘aha’ moment where she realized she never considered that a woman might do that.  Her sense of regret and her hindsight looking back on the situation and everything she may have taken for granted is Fowler telling us to realize exactly what we are doing.  The narrator missed everything about the mission in the jungle, except for the mission.  She missed the compassion of the people, and even the compassion of her husband.

**The definition of liberation was found at the following link: