Hello can i pls have feedback on this intro, and my first para. and what grade it would be?
Analyse how the author’s purpose was revealed using different settings
Whilst we may believe that modern society has progressed, and that we are able to celebrate and accommodate diversity, we often put incredible pressure on others and ourselves to fit a restrictive and unattainable standard of “normality.” When we put this often confusing and arbitrary ideal of normality on a pedestal, we end up marginalising those who are unable to attain it, or forcing them to conform regardless of the harm this could cause them. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata cleverly reveals this idea through the protagonist of the novel, Keiko, an autistic woman, and the way in which contrasting settings impact her sense of self and state of mind. Keiko is comfortable and at peace in the convenience store in which she works, and outside she lacks a purpose and sense of self. However, it is made clear to us that her connection to the store is closely tied to its ability to help her hide her true self, as an act of self preservation. Thus, Murata suggests to her reader that our conformist society treats disabled and neurodivergent individuals as well as they can hide their most authentic selves, and challenges us to reframe the way in which we uphold this toxic standard, and the often cruel manner in which we, as a society, enforce it.
When we enforce an arbitrary standard of normality’ we can force neurodivergent people to hide their true selves. This can result in these people seeking out and finding comfort in their own loss of identity. At the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to the setting of the convenience store as a place that Keiko finds comforting ,“a world of sound” that “ceaselessly caresses my eardrums.” This is after she exhibits autistic traits as a child, and is labelled as ‘abnormal" and needing to be ‘cured.’ This personification of the store’s sound as caressing’ suggests a sense of intimacy and trust between Keiko and the convenience store, establishing it as a setting that makes Keiko feel safe and provides a sense of belonging. Murata then cleverly suggests that part of what created this trust between Keiko in the convenience store is the opportunity it presents her to appear ‘normal.’ After completing the store training, she remarks that “It was the first time anyone had ever taught me how to accomplish a normal facial expression and manner of speech.” The verb “accomplish” suggests that for her 'normality is an achievement, something that she needs to work towards and to desire. Here, Murata is cleverly commenting on the way in which many disabled or neurodivergent individuals have to work towards an arbitrary standard of ‘normal’, and that often they feel as if they need to hide their true selves and learn to become someone else entirely, which is revealed through the way in which Keiko interacts with the setting of the convenience store. Afterwards she states that she is “reborn.” The verb ‘reborn’ conveys a sense of hope, as once she has learned to change herself, an entirely new life has now become available to her. However, having this ‘rebirth directly connected with the convenience store shows how her sense of safety and hope is only tied to this one place - not the world as a whole, and also her ability to hide who she truly is, even stating that the store has provided her a "mask,’ further emphasising that this safety has come at a huge personal cost - her ability to naturally and openly express herself. Murata’s purpose is clear here, when we expect individuals to live up to this idea of normal, we are also removing their agency and damaging their sense of self in the process. This loss of identity is taken even further through Murata’s purposeful use of dehumanisation when Keiko states that “I actually became a normal cog in society,” once she had started working in the convenience store. This metaphor removes all individuality and humanity from her, suggesting she is entirely replaceable and only as useful as she is able to fit into a brutal system. Murata purposefully uses the setting of the convenience store, and Keiko’s layered relationship with this seting to critique the way in which we put ‘normality’ on a pedestal in our society, and how many marginalised individuals who struggle to to live up to this standard, are forced to seek out ways in which they can hide their differences, as often these ‘masks’ cannot be used outside of these safe spaces. This purpose is important for us to understand, as many unknowingly hold up these standards of normality, without realising the harm it can cause to many autistic or otherwise neurodivergent individuals. In New Zealand, autism is the largest risk factor for bullying in schools, and we often still require arbitrary standards of politeness in everyday life that we can then use to other people, like requiring eye contact to show interest, and equating honesty with rudeness. Here, Murata warns that when we do this, we can severely damage neurodivergent individual’s sense of self and safety in the world, and limit them to finding comfort in their own loss of self and identity