After reading Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, I found myself going back to Ruth Padel’s review of the book in the New York Times. In particular, I was taken by one section of the review in which she describes Geryon’s wings as standing “for creativity, its power and its pain.” It made me think about how Geryon’s wings, and the uniqueness of them, have influenced his development from childhood through adolescence, particularly in regard to how he sees himself. Being the only character in the book that has these physical characteristics, it’s easy to see how Geryon sees himself as alienated from all of the other, less-winged characters. Especially as a child, this sense of alienation can be really influential to how you are able to formulate your own identity, and for Geryon, I think he really sees himself as monstrous and strange as a result of his strange physical features.
Something similar is going on in another series I’ve been following pretty closely lately, called Spy x Family. A Japanese animated television series, Spy x Family focuses on a “fake” family named the Forger’s who are comprised of a father (Loid; a master spy), a mother (Yor; an assassin), and their child (Anya; a telepath). Particularly relevant in this case is Anya, who in the very first episode is adopted by Loid from an orphanage. Anya had a troubled history leading up to that point, experimented on by scientists from a certain “Project Apple” because of her psychic powers. In terms of how this relates to Geryon, I think it is very interesting to see how vehemently Anya is trying to prevent herself from revealing her nature as a telepath, even from her new parents, Loid and Yor, who she has come to love very much. She notes multiple times that if her father finds out about her powers, he may not want her anymore. While I don’t think she’s right about that, it is really interesting to see how Anya internalizes her secret powers as something that is actually a threat to the new life she’s created for herself with her new family. In a similar way to how Geryon feels alienated because of his wings, Anya sees her telepathic powers as something to be overcome rather than embraced openly.
I think both of these characters have very creative, unique ways of thinking that are different from their peers, largely due to the differences in how their bodies/minds work, and going beyond what Padel said in terms of creativity, I think both experiences actually fit somewhat neatly into narratives around queer childhood identity as well. This is more clear in Geryon, who actually expresses certain queer characteristics through his relationship with Herakles, than Anya, who is a very small child who mainly likes eating peanuts, watching cartoons, and being a little rascal. Even so, I think both characters deal with struggles that I think could really speak to queer kids everywhere who are trying to find their way in a world that doesn’t want them to be who they are, and are forced to grapple with the difficulties of trying to finding themselves in that unforgiving climate.
(P.S. I’ll also link the promotional trailer for Spy x Family for those who haven’t seen the show. I can’t recommend it enough.)