ENG 350 – “Future Home of the Living God”

In her novel Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich grasps and explains some rather important parts of the apocalypse: Humans known not the scale, and indeed prefer to not know (even with all their clamoring to just know), the scale of the end of life as we know it. The format of the novel as the main character’s journal gives the reader the fog an individual would have—unlike many others that offer flashbacks or other points of view that provide the reader with knowledge that the characters could not possibly know. When a global scale crisis arises, the people immediately become small-minded: looking out for themselves, their families, and little else. Those with power seize control of the military, communication, production, and reproduction. Their agenda is thinly veiled with euphemisms that imply comfort and protection, but masks the abuse of women. The abusers are themselves against what they do but have no choice themselves. No one is winning in this situation, even those that pretend to be in charge. It’s the end of the world, and no one wants to notice.

The focus of the book, however, is an individual’s journey in hiding from those in power, being captured, escaping, being captured again, and ultimately [spoiler alert] not getting away or what she wants. “Finally!” I said to my husband after I finished reading this, “A dystopic novel that doesn’t have a happy ending!” In most stories, there’s some morally gray “happy” ending that gets the main character(s) what they want but with some sort of sacrifice. Here we have a main character that loses everything, and remains that way at the end, with no hope in sight. This is what a reader needs in order to truly understand what the end of the world would be like. No one wins.

Several times within her journal, Cedar (the main character) writes about her future child’s growth, musing over the large numbers and small scale of each bit of growth. She admits that it all seems meaningless, but somehow important at the same time. Just like the end of the world—just like any other hyper-object—it’s too large or to small to comprehend, so she focuses on things that are her size. Her relationships with her moms, her dads, her sister, her grandmother, her “angel”, and the other pregnant women she meets along the way are what drives her. The crisis is endured by all, and so is not a concern that is discussed. It is there, all are aware of it, but every faction moves on their own for their own means. There’s no one group trying to save all of humanity, even those that they they are doing so are trying to create their own world.

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