In many of the novels we've read for this class, information and knowledge have been closely tied to technology and/or power. The collection and accumulation of information and its practical applications demonstrate and enforce control. With all of this focus on bettering one's social and financial status through useful knowledge, what happens to the individual? In Slow River, as we discussed in class on Monday, Lore has identity issues (illustrated through parallel narratives, different point of views, etc.).
Early on in childhood, Lore learned something important: "...at seven Lore is suddenly realizing she can make of herself what she wills. When she is old enough she can have red hair or golden eyebrows...And no one will tell her she is wrong, because no one will know. She could become anyone she wishes. But how will she know she is still herself?" (52). Even at such a young age, Lore recognizes the implications of knowledge as power over others. If no one knows what she is supposed to be, then they cannot question what identity she portrays. At the beginning of the novel, for example, Lore is uncomfortable when she realizes Spanner knows "all about her" (18). No PIDA can change that.
Progenies of the social elite are expected to maintain certain standards, whether those standards are on the physical or intellectual scale. Roles and identities are laid out for them. Lore, then, is the product of this environment (and a dysfunctional family, but that's a different matter). Not only does she have "all the visible trappings of the rich and powerful" (52), but she also has the knowledge that comes with managing her family's corporation. In trying to meet all these social and familial expectations, Lore ultimately jeopardizes herself. Even under the guise of Sal Bird, Lore must also meet a different set of expectations (though it is because her knowledge exceeds these expectations that she is able to help the water plant).
The time Lore spends away from her family ultimately enables her take control of her own life. "Self-actualization," according to Thoreau, requires a rejection of material goods, which Lore definitely accomplishes when she expresses her desire to stay with Spanner instead of going home.
In the article we read, the author questions Lore's supposed progression throughout the novel. Is her development truly progressive? Even though it may seem regressive because she returns to her family, I don't think that everything she went through should be discredited. While I agree that her character seems to fall flat at the end, I think that, in the beginning of the novel at least, there seems to be hope for her internal development.