Change the Narrative
Empathy in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
In post-apocalyptic fiction, the concept of empathy often is depicted as a weakness that the characters cannot afford if they hope to survive. This depiction leads to harmful perceptions on the value of empathy and its ability to avert apocalyptic catastrophes. By examining David Clement-Davies young adult novel The Sight through theories of narrative empathy and through James Berger’s theories of post-apocalyptic representation, this essay argues that by representing empathic understanding, fiction writers have the power to influence positive changes in real world situations. By representing the need to teach empathy for all people, regardless of their differences, and the harm a lack of empathy can cause on both a personal level and on a large societal scale, this novel encourages future generations to seek peaceful and empathic solutions instead of repeating the cataclysmic mistakes of their forebearers.