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“The City We Became” Novel by Nora K. Jemisin


The City We Became, an award-winning urban fantasy novel by Nora K. Jemisin, incorporates various ideas and concepts relevant to the modern era. Whereas racism, oppression, social injustice, and gentrification may be considered the primary keywords of the narrative, one can see interconnectedness as a subtle yet highly important theme. In particular, the interconnectedness between the cities and thousands of closely-related universes results in the deaths of trillions whenever a city is born in the form of a human avatar (Jemisin, 2020). However, the protagonists — the humanized New York boroughs, spend little time in deliberations before deciding to proceed with awakening. Despite the countless deaths, the boroughs preferred this brutal outcome to the victory of the Enemy, a Lovecraftian-style embodiment of white supremacy and oppression against minorities. The Enemy sacrifices cities to prevent the devastating consequences of their birth; surprisingly, the otherworldly monstrosity shows a better awareness of interconnectedness, even though Jemisin portrays it as an objectively evil being. Regarding the real world, it is important to define and understand interconnectedness since the inability to do so may lead to failures in solving complex contemporary issues.

Keyword Definitions and Usages

Interconnectedness is a widely-used keyword in various sections of academic research. Examples of interconnectedness studies can be found in such spheres as medicine, political science, economics, and psychology. Consequently, the definitions and usage of the keyword primarily depend on the context. In a broad sense, the definitions of interconnectedness can be divided into spiritual and material categories. The spiritual category of definitions is usually applied in the fields related to socio-psychological studies. For instance, in their study of palliative care-related experience, Bovero et al. (2020) defined interconnectedness as a transcendent feeling of being a part of something greater than individuality. In their study of political ideology predictors, Sparkman et al. (2019) referred to interconnectedness as the inclusion of another within the self, a cognitive process in which representations of self and others overlap. Finally, Watson et al. (2020) loosely defined interconnectedness as a set of ties between the mediators of the COVID-19 pandemic outcomes, such as individualism, collective trauma, and environmental injustice. Overall, the spiritual definitions focus on the transcendence of interconnectedness beyond the individual’s perspective.

Economics research primarily perceives interconnectedness in a material sense. For example, Maluck et al. (2018) introduced the concept of trade interconnectedness which represents trade relations between two national economies as a movement of a random walker from a sector in one country to another. Kim and Zhu (2018) utilized the concept of supply network interconnectedness, which refers to the extent to which partners and suppliers are connected and share business linkages. Martinez-Jaramillo et al. (2019) mentioned the term “too interconnected to fail” — jargon economists and financiers use to describe an institution whose failure might threaten global financial stability. Lastly, Ozcan et al. (2019) used the idea of interconnectedness to draw suggestions for reaching a compromise between economic growth and environmental challenges. Given these perceptions of interconnectedness, one can see how the material aspect perceives it as a set of objective ties that affect all elements within the system.

Overall, the socio-psychological definitions of interconnectedness as a transcendent concept reflect the encounters with this keyword regarding my project. In my essay, I perceive interconnectedness as something that amplifies the significance of a selected individual. I believe that the transcendence of vital matters beyond self-interests is paramount. In this regard, I find the resolution of the dilemma presented in The City We Became somewhat lackluster unless Nora Jemisin develops the narrative in potential sequels.

Genealogies of the Term

The term “interconnectedness” has two primary genealogies which are quite clearly distinguishable. Firstly, the “inter” prefix demonstrates that the matter in question affects more than a single individual or entity. In The City We Became, the successful creation of every great city’s avatar leads to the destruction of closely-related universes. In real life, the “inter” genealogy manifests in various ways. For instance, a healthcare provider experiences the “inter” component of interconnectedness when they see how a dying patient fights for their life (Bovero et al., 2020). In economics, two countries reach the “inter” state when they conclude a bilateral trade agreement to meet their export or import demands (Maluck et al., 2018). Therefore, the matter ceases to be a specific feature of a human being, company, or country as soon as it enters the “inter” condition.

Secondly, the “connectedness” genealogy refers to the density of ties between individuals or entities, thus representing the strength of the “inter” component. In real life, the massive New York metropolitan area can be considered the economic and cultural heart of the United States. Jemisin (2020) reflects this connectedness in the projected scope of the cataclysm, which would happen if the Enemy stopped the birth of New York. Interestingly enough, the annihilation of New York and the partial destruction of New Jersey, Long Island, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are not nearly as devastating as the cosmic consequences of the city’s awakening. Perhaps, Jemisin intended to develop the plot in future books; otherwise, The City We Became sends a rather simplistic message that whiteness must be eliminated at any cost.

Overall, the genealogies of interconnectedness reflect the increasing complexity of the modern world. As such, interconnectedness should be considered a modern keyword, which was largely disregarded historically. Consequently, complex issues, such as racism, should be perceived as a set of interconnected elements — laws, institutions, and socio-economic structures, rather than simple old-fashioned bigotry based on skin color. In this regard, the major challenges of our time should be analyzed and addressed through the lens of interconnectedness since the simplistic approaches of the past are not satisfactory anymore.

Keyword’s Applicability in Critical Projects

The recognition of interconnectedness opens the opportunity window for various critical projects. Most importantly, interconnectedness enriches the content of scholarly discourse by tying the studies to the global context. As a result, research in various fields benefits from a wider empirical base. For example, Ozcan et al. (2019) applied the concept of interconnectedness to find the causality between energy consumption, economic growth, and environmental degradation in dozens of countries, ranging from Australia to the USA. Therefore, interconnectedness greatly facilitates research aimed at highlighting and addressing the elements of modern-day global challenges.

In addition, the understanding of interconnectedness creates the necessary conditions for comprehensive scholarly and social discussions. Interconnectedness reveals the areas that require the utmost attention, making it possible to focus efforts on the critical aspects of the problem. For example, applying the interconnectedness lens to the COVID-19 pandemic made it possible to underscore the glaring flaws of U.S. healthcare, such as rugged individualism and classism (Watson et al., 2020). Therefore, bringing interconnectedness into critical conversations and projects creates a beneficial environment for open-minded discussions. As a result, society increases its chances of developing feasible solutions to contemporary problems.

Keyword’s Impact on the Ways of Thinking

The recognition of interconnectedness has several important implications for the ways of thinking. Firstly, interconnectedness revolves around breaking down complex issues into a collection of related themes. As a result, one can create a more detailed picture of reality instead of relying on quick generalizations. For example, the interconnectedness lens allows us to acknowledge both positive and negative aspects of the global financial system’s stability. On the one hand, the interconnectedness of institutions improves risk-sharing and resilience; on the other hand, excessive complexity creates additional stability risks (Martinez-Jaramillo et al., 2019). In this regard, interconnectedness promotes an analytical approach to thinking, which is beneficial for establishing the causality of particular situations and events.

At the same time, one can argue that the emphasis on interconnectedness hinders emotional thinking and fast decision-making in cases that demand prompt action. For example, the borough avatars in The City We Became disregarded interconnectedness — they quickly considered the destruction of multiple universes an acceptable price for New York’s awakening. From their perspective, defeating the Enemy, who represented racism, white supremacy, and oppression against all kinds of minorities, was worth enormous sacrifice. However, one should note that battling racism in the real world is a more complex process, which requires a consolidated effort rather than shaming and labeling a particular race. In this regard, the understanding and gradual addressing of the interconnected roots of racism seems to be a more constructive and sound approach.

Keywords Constellated Around the Term

In The City We Became, interconnectedness can be perceived as a single star in the large constellation of themes brought up by Nora Jemisin. In particular, interconnectedness unites the narratives of white supremacy, racism, gentrification, and oppression. All of these tactics are deployed by the Enemy, who utilizes white people as a key instrument of its plan. In addition, interconnectedness ties New York to multiple universes, which are bound to collapse once the city awakens in the form of a human avatar.

Outside of Jemisin’s novel, interconnectedness is a highly versatile keyword, which can be connected to various keywords depending on a scholarly discipline. The connection can be clarified via the usual quantitative and qualitative research methods that confirm or refute the dependency between particular keywords. For example, Sparkman et al. (2019) surveyed 886 Americans in four studies and found that intergroup interconnectedness predicts such keywords as liberalism, conservatism, and policy preferences through empathy. Therefore, interconnectedness can be measured reliably, making it valuable for understanding problems via the scientific method.

Reasons to Study and Discuss Interconnectedness

Given the previous arguments, one can list several reasons for studying and discussing interconnectedness in any course related to humanities, social sciences, and creative arts. Most importantly, studying the interconnectedness of people, events, ideas, or institutions allows us to break down complex concepts into simpler parts and create a more precise understanding. When an individual knows the nature of interconnectedness, they obtain a better knowledge of how society works. In addition, studying interconnectedness is beneficial for logical thinking since interconnectedness is usually based on causalities. Lastly, interconnectedness creates a common ground for open-minded discussions by bridging the gap between separate individuals.

Regarding discussions, interconnectedness acts as a cohesive element in human relationships. As previously mentioned, interconnectedness amplifies the significance of every human being, making every single one of us a part of a greater entity, whether it be a family or the whole world. By making the students aware of interconnectedness, a teacher enriches their knowledge and prepares their minds for informed discussions about subjects of vital significance. As such, interconnectedness equips those aware of it with the necessary background for conversations on socially significant matters.

The Role of Sources in Defining the Keyword

The sources selected for defining the selected keyword offered a diverse understanding of interconnectedness. The emphasis of definition varied depending on the scholarly field. For example, socio-psychological studies perceived interconnectedness as a subjective feeling of transcendence, belonging to something greater. Consequently, a such manifestation of interconnectedness was usually measured via interviews or literature reviews. On the contrary, the studies in political science and economics utilized quantitative methods since their authors perceived interconnectedness as a set of objective empirical ties between people or institutions. Regardless, the sources demonstrated the importance of interconnectedness for breaking down complex matters into simpler subjects. On the contrary, The City We Became disregards interconnectedness to a certain degree since the main characters barely discuss it or consider it while making a fateful decision. Their willingness to sacrifice thousands of universes and trillions of lives for the temporary victory against the Enemy inspired me to explore how interconnectedness is defined and applied in the real world.


In her novel The City We Became, Nora K. Jemisin covered many important concepts represented by the corresponding keywords. Despite its presence in the text and the significance of associated consequences, the characters barely discuss and consider the concept of interconnectedness. However, interconnectedness is highly valuable in the real world due to its capacity to break down complex problems into simpler subjects, which facilitates their understanding by the general public. In addition, interconnectedness is a versatile keyword that can be applied to various disciplines with equal success. In particular, studying and discussing interconnectedness can be advised in analyzing complex and sensitive social problems, such as racism. Overall, the inherent spirit of transcendence and the beneficial impact on logical thinking makes interconnectedness worthy of studying, especially if the ultimate goal is to understand the nature of contemporary global challenges.


Bovero, A., Gottardo, F., Botto, R., Tosi, C., Selvatico, M., & Torta, R. (2020). Definition of a good death, attitudes toward death, and feelings of interconnectedness among people taking care of terminally ill patients with cancer: an exploratory study. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 37(5), 343-349.

Jemisin, N. K. (2020) The city we became. Orbit.

Kim, D. Y., & Zhu, P. (2018). Supplier dependence and R&D intensity: The moderating role of network centrality and interconnectedness. Journal of Operations Management, 64, 7-18.

Maluck, J., Glanemann, N., & Donner, R. V. (2018). Bilateral trade agreements and the interconnectedness of global trade. Frontiers in Physics, 6, 134.

Martinez-Jaramillo, S., Carmona, C. U., & Kenett, D. Y. (2019). Interconnectedness and financial stability. Journal of Risk Management in Financial Institutions, 12(2), 168-183.

Ozcan, B., Tzeremes, P., & Dogan, E. (2019). Re-estimating the interconnectedness between the demand of energy consumption, income, and sustainability indices. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 26(26), 26500-26516.

Sparkman, D. J., Eidelman, S., & Till, D. F. (2019). Ingroup and outgroup interconnectedness predict and promote political ideology through empathy. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 22(8), 1161-1180.

Watson, M. F., Bacigalupe, G., Daneshpour, M., Han, W. J., & Parra‐Cardona, R. (2020). COVID‐19 interconnectedness: Health inequity, the climate crisis, and collective trauma. Family Process, 59(3), 832-846.

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"“The City We Became” Novel by Nora K. Jemisin." OctoStudy, 12 Apr. 2023, octostudy.com/the-city-we-became-novel-by-nora-k-jemisin/.

1. OctoStudy. "“The City We Became” Novel by Nora K. Jemisin." April 12, 2023. https://octostudy.com/the-city-we-became-novel-by-nora-k-jemisin/.


OctoStudy. "“The City We Became” Novel by Nora K. Jemisin." April 12, 2023. https://octostudy.com/the-city-we-became-novel-by-nora-k-jemisin/.


OctoStudy. 2023. "“The City We Became” Novel by Nora K. Jemisin." April 12, 2023. https://octostudy.com/the-city-we-became-novel-by-nora-k-jemisin/.


OctoStudy. (2023) '“The City We Became” Novel by Nora K. Jemisin'. 12 April.

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