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It seems that Butler is portraying that African American women were not given the option to hold the power.Therefore, we can see in the story that when Rye identifies that the two children are able to speak she decides to abandon them to protect and teach them.
She may not have the power to speak in public, but she has the power to protect the children from the jealousy and violation in that society.
In an uk interview titled “Magic, Mystery and Mayhem: An Interview with J. Rowling,” when asked about the way she came up with the names of characters in her books, she replied, “I invented some of the names in the Harry books, but I also collect strange names. Rowling chose these names for a reason based on the deeper meanings behind every character's name and the way they relate to their roles and personalities. Butler's short story “Speech Sounds”, Rye and Obsidian were the names she chose for her characters.
“The pendant attached to it was a smooth, glassy, black rock. His name might be Rock or Peter or Black” (Butler 412).
Obsidian’s identity was also derived from a trinket, however; his true name was never revealed and he simply remained Obsidian.
Butler describes this disease as, “A new virus, a new pollutant, radiation, divine retribution….
The illness was stroke-swift in the way it cut people down and strokelike in some of its effects” (96).Butler seems to be criticizing her own society through her depiction of the society in her story that Rye is a woman that has the ability to speak among other people who are not able to communicate with each other because of the illness that Butler describes as pandemic.A pandemic, as represented in this story, is a disease or a condition that influences the population.Therefore, Rye did not speak for several years because if her voice is heard she will be in a threat of being killed.I believe that Butler as an African American women is criticizing her own society that time in which black women were not able to present their voice in a white male dominant society.Rye’s name was derived from an object she wore on her body.This object was “a pin in the shape of a large golden stalk of wheat,” “thinking it was as close as she was likely to come to Rye” (Butler 412).Butler describes Rye by saying that “Illness had stripped her, killing her children one by one, killing her husband, her sister, her parents” (95).The isolation has accompanied the illness that had unpredictable feelings of frustration, jealousy, and caution of mistrust others.Butler’s “Speech Sounds” can be read as a feminist work in which only women are able to speak.As a matter of fact, usually people are heard in the society as long as they speak and language is the tool of those who hold the power.