1 Decemeber 2017
Battle in Seattle: How Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist Questions their Effectiveness of Protest
Protests occur in the United States and around the world for many different reasons. The purpose of this paper is to examine the portrayal of the World Trade Organization protest of November 30, 1999 in Seattle, Washington in Sunil Yapa’s novel, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of your Fist and will explore whether there exists moments where the novel questions the effectiveness of protest. The paper begins with a basic summary of the important events of the novel and its main characters. Then, it dives into the history of the WTO so as to give the protest better context. The style that the novel employs is discussed because it is paramount in connecting the reader to the characters. Examples of successful protests in history are presented as rebuttals to the main claim of the paper before a final analysis in performed on the characters of Chief Bishop and Victor. They represent the two sides of the conflict in the story: the Seattle police force and the protestors. How the novel presents these two characters and their journey to the novel’s conclusion is indicative of its sentiment towards protest in general.
The act of protest has occurred in the United States and other places around the world to varying effect. History teaches us that they can be either violent uprisings or peaceful sit-ins, both of which having had highly significant consequences. The Salt March in India of 1930 and the Washington Civil Rights March of 1963 both show that protest was still an effective means of change in the 20th century. However, as the U.S. continues to grow, change and evolve its political, social, and technological landscape, one questions whether the act of protest remains an effective tactic coming into the 21st century. Sunil Yapa’s debut contemporary novel, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, is set amid the protest that disrupted the 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle, Washington. The protestors amassed to oppose a global trade agreement between members of the WTO and government officials from other countries. Yapa uses this background to tell the stories of seven characters: Victor, a young, nineteen-year-old runaway who smokes pot and makes money selling it; Chief Bishop, leader of the Seattle police force and Victor’s father; John Henry, the quintessential protester who believes in every word the protestors chant; King, another protester who uses the rhetoric of a pacifist while hiding and suppressing a violent past; Officer Park, an obtuse cop who is both mentally and physically scarred; Officer Julie, Park’s partner and former LAPD policewoman; and Dr. Charles Wikramsinghe, a finance minister from Sri Lanka who believes the WTO meetings will help third world countries. These characters experience the day and the protest in unique ways, all while...