“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett explores various types of social outcasts. Social outcasts are individuals or groups who are marginalized by society due to their difference from other people. These social outcasts face isolation, discrimination, and stigmatization due to their race, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, or socioeconomic status. Their experiences reveal the dark side of society, indicating the consequences of societal norms and expectations. Additionally, social outcasts navigate a world that fails to acknowledge their humanity, thus pushing them to isolation. However, these groups find ways to adapt, cope and thrive amidst these challenges. Therefore, learning about their experiences provides us with an understanding of society’s flaws and compels us to challenge the existing systems of discrimination. This paper will explore various social outcasts in “The Vanishing Halt” story and show how they compensate for their isolation.
One group portrayed as social outcasts in the story is the racially marginalized people. The novel explores the lives of Black characters in a racially divided America. This discrimination is seen through the character of Jude. Despite her intelligence and accomplishments, Jude is discriminated against due to her skin color. In one scenario, Jude attends a party at a predominated white school where she is made to feel like nothing. The novel states, “Jude remembered how out of place she had felt that night, sitting in the dark, watching the other girls laugh and shout as if they didn’t even notice her sitting there” (Bennett 160). This quote shows her isolation and marginalization from the crowd due to her racial identity. In the entire novel, Bennett explores the effects of societal expectations that perpetuate racism and discrimination. He highlights the struggles of various characters, such as Jude, who are continuously reminded of their outsider status. As a result, the novel sheds light on the lasting impacts of racism and the need for greater inclusivity and understanding in society. However, racially marginalized people are shown to compensate for their isolation and develop coping mechanisms to counterbalance the effect of their social outcast status. For instance, Jude compensates her isolation by channelling her energy into her work, resulting in her excellence in her career as a researcher.
Moreover, LGBTQ+ individuals are shown as social outcasts in society. The novel shows the struggles of LGBTQ+ characters in trying to fit into society. However, they are rejected and discriminated against by the majority. For instance, Jude faces social barriers due to her sexual orientation of being a lesbian. The novel states, “Jude had felt it her whole life: the sensation of being othered, of never quite belonging, no matter how hard she tried” (Bennett 125). This quote shows how Jude constantly felt like an outsider in her entire life. Throughout the novel, Jude struggles with her identity and the fear of being rejected by her loved ones, including her family. Additionally, Early faces discrimination due to his transgender status. These characters find solace by seeking close relationships with the people of their kind. Their deep connections with fellow marginalized individuals create a supportive network that becomes a source of strength for them. Secondly, characters such as Jude embark on a journey of self-acceptance, embracing her lesbian identity and finding strength in herself. She also engages in advocacy and self-expression to fight her isolation. She explores her passion for photography, capturing experiences of marginalized communities. Through her art, she amplifies their voices and challenges societal norms of discrimination.
In conclusion, “The Vanishing Hall” by Brit Bennett explores the struggles of social outcasts due to their race, gender, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. Through the experiences of characters like Jude, the novel highlights the isolation, discrimination and stigmatization social outcasts face. It exposes the flaws in societal expectations that discriminate against minority groups. Some of these social outcasts include racially marginalized people and LGBTQ+ individuals. However, the novel shows their resilience to compensate for their isolation. As a result, they form supportive networks to navigate their discrimination in society. Therefore, the novel helps us to understand their challenges and thereby challenge discriminative societal norms and systems for the good of all people in the community.
Bennett, Brit. The vanishing half: A novel. Penguin, 2022.