Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand Characters

Samuel R. Delany

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Rat Korga, the only survivor of the destruction of the planet Rhyonon, is an individual Delany first empties of character, then shrouds in mystery. While a teenager, Korga chose to undergo Radical Anxiety Termination (RAT), an operation that destroys the brain cells that produce violence and antisocial behavior, rendering him incapable of anger and destructive emotion. Korga, now called Rat because of this surgical procedure, has become a slave of the RAT Institute, for which he must work in a series of unskilled jobs, directed by abusive supervisors. After years of slave labor, including an illegal sale to an individual who sexually abuses him, Korga is the sole survivor after a fireball hits the planet. Delany uses a third-person point of view in the opening section of the novel to help portray Rat Korga as a dehumanized slave, a subhuman owned and used by others. Readers enter his mind only briefly, adding to the mystery of his character.

Eventually discovered by relief members of the Web, an intergalactic organization dedicated to maintaining a communications network among the six thousand inhabited worlds, Korga is healed of his physical wounds and fitted with special rings that reintegrate much of the cranial short-circuiting that RAT effected. Now capable of communication and sophisticated social interaction, Korga seeks a new world to replace Rhyonon, the home he never really understood. Korga is brought by the Web to the planet Velm, where he is...

(The entire section is 549 words.)

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

In Marq Dyeth, Delany creates an open and forthright character to contrast with the enigmatic Rat Korga. Dyeth’s education, privileged background, and nurturing family life serve as a foil to the ill-educated, abandoned social misfit Rat Korga. Even physically, the two are at odds: Dyeth is short and attractive; Korga is well over seven feet tall and disfigured. Perhaps most significant, Dyeth’s successful career is based on his understanding not only of his home world but also of the myriad cultures of other planets, while Korga has never understood his home world and knows virtually nothing about any other. That these opposites are still strongly attracted to each other underscores Delany’s cross-cultural and cross-racial themes.

Korga’s life on Rhyonon has been one of institutional and personal servitude and exploitation. Misled by the RAT Institute to believe that he would be happy after undergoing the surgical procedure, Korga loses his freedom to an institution that strips away his dignity and profits from his mistreatment. As if his economic exploitation were not bad enough, Korga is illegally purchased by a woman—on Rhyonon only institutions can legally own slaves—and experiences sexual exploitation. Required to fulfill his new owner’s erotic desires, the homosexually oriented Korga is obliged to imagine his female owner to be a man in order to perform sexually. Later, she sadistically abuses him for her own sexual satisfaction. The institution of slavery depicted in these predestruction scenes on Rhyonon comment pointedly on the institution of slavery.

Rat Korga’s relationship with Marq Dyeth contrasts with the social and sexual slavery on Rhyonon. Custom on Velm promotes a relaxed sexual atmosphere in which erotic encounters between humans and evelmi are culturally sanctioned. The capacity to see “the other” as erotic object is shown as a cornerstone for healthy individual relationships, fostering cross-cultural and cross-species understanding. Delany’s sexually repressed Rhyonon may correspond to Earth, where gay and interracial relationships continue to face legal and social obstacles.

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Rat Korga

Rat Korga, the only survivor of the destruction of the planet Rhyonon. Korga, while a teenager, had chosen to undergo Radical Anxiety Termination (RAT), an operation that destroys those brain cells that produce violent and antisocial behavior, rendering him incapable of anger and destructive emotion. Korga, now called “Rat” because of this surgical procedure, has become a slave of the RAT Institute. After years of slave labor, including an illegal sale to a woman who sexually abuses him, Korga is at work deep below ground when Rhyonon mysteriously experiences a fireball that destroys every living person except him. Discovered by relief members of the Web, an intergalactic organization dedicated to maintaining a communications network among the six thousand inhabited worlds, Korga is healed of his physical wounds and fitted with special rings that reintegrate much of the cranial short-circuiting that Radical Anxiety Termination effected. Now capable of communication and sophisticated social interaction, Korga seeks a new world to replace Rhyonon, the home he never really understood. Korga is taken by the Web to the planet Velm, where he is introduced to Marq Dyeth, whom the Web has identified as his perfect erotic object. Korga and Marq Dyeth begin a homosexual relationship almost immediately; however, when Velm is threatened by the alien race Xlv, the Web chooses to remove Korga from the planet.

Marq Dyeth

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(The entire section is 419 words.)