Themes and Meanings
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 clean-favored; 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 a man in order to perform sexually. Later, she sadistically abuses him for her own sexual satisfaction. These predestruction scenes on Rhyonon comment pointedly on the institution of slavery, reinforcing Delany’s position that slave...
(The entire section is 649 words.)