The Hoodlum Heroine: The Delinquent “Protagonist” of Artemis By Varun Chowdhary

**SPOILER ALERT**

 

“I’m one of the little people… if my neighbourhood were wine, connoisseurs would describe it as “shitty, with overtones of failure and poor life decisions.”” When Andy Weir wrote Artemis, he likely wrote main character Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara as an impoverished petty criminal just trying to get by in Artemis – the first city on the moon – and all her actions seem justified since it’s her only option to scrape up what little money she can. The main driving point of the story begins when Jazz is offered 1,000,000š (slugs, the currency on the moon) to sabotage the leading corporation that runs energy production on the moon so another rich business owner can take over the industry. This is Jazz’s big break, a way out of poverty, and so one would think that this is way to have all her criminal activity performed in order to complete this task would be somewhat justified, but this is not the case. Jazz Bashara commits crimes (throughout the book, not just for the reason of getting the 1,000,000š) that are irredeemable, and she shouldn’t just be fined or even imprisoned, but deported and put away for a long, long time.

 

Everyone has family problems. The first example of Jazz’s misgivings is at the cost of her relationship with her only living family: her father. This takes place before the book even starts, when Jazz was younger, but is revealed a little over a quarter of the way through the book, on page 88. Jazz and her previous boyfriend, who she was dating at the time this took place, got their hands on illegal pot and decided to host a party with it. The city of Artemis has always been very careful of fire, so the only place Jazz knew to have a secret smoking party was in her father’s brand new, expensive, enclosed welding shop. While there, Jazz showed no care whatsoever, and she and her friends, thanks to their unobservant selves not noticing a gas leak and proceeding to play with blowtorches, causing “the whole room to catch fire”. Since her father spent over 400,000š getting it built, he is unable to get his precious shop replaced, is unable to expand his business, and is now in financial debt. Jazz does end up paying her father for the damage years later after collecting enough money, but this does not make up for the lost business and reputation that her father had to deal with. Still, this is only the first of Jazz’s misdoings, and certainly not the worst.

 

Jazz does many things after she fails to hold up her end of the 1,000,000š bargain and the man hiring her is assassinated. She goes homeless, steals supplies, and more, all of which are illegal on Artemis. Despite all of her little crimes, nothing even comes close to the time she, in an effort to take down a mobster run aluminium company to stop the Brazilian mafia from coming after her (trying to save her own skin), finds out she accidentally released deadly chloroform gas into the entire city, with her and a couple others safely outside the city on the moon’s surface in a rover, and with everyone else inside unconscious with an hour until the gas reached fatal amounts. Chloroform, unlike in movies, is not a knockout gas, but is actually lethal in large amounts. It should be mentioned that Jazz does manage to save the city, almost sacrificing herself in the process, but this is all just saving others from a mess she created. After all of this, on page 297, she manages to avoid getting deported by essentially bribing the prime minister by promising to keep contraband out of the city. She does get a hefty fine that essentially eliminates most of the money she’s earned over the course of the book, but she doesn’t seem too concerned, saying, “I could always make more money, but I couldn’t get un-deported.” If the punishment doesn’t truly affect her, then it is not effective, and she will likely continue her criminal activity in the future since she hasn’t been properly taught her lesson.

 

Jazz’s desperate antics may generate a sympathetic viewpoint from some readers, but they shouldn’t. She deserves none of the rewards or benefits she would get from her actions, and deserves to start from square one and work her way up through non-illicit methods, or simply go to jail. While Jazz is arguably a likeable protagonist who readers may end up rooting for, from a story perspective, Jazz is a criminal. Jazz shouldn’t be running around eyeing all the biggest crime opportunities from the street. She should be doing that from behind bars.

Separation – Varun’s vignettes

Vignette #1 Title: Losing Ground

Idea(s) being explored (theme): Farmer’s thoughts pre-enclosure act

Specific historical connection: Enclosure act

 

I heard a rumour today. All the fields within a 7 mile radius of our community are going to be bought by some rich gentleman named Jake Vytingyne. This is bad. I won’t be able to farm, which means I won’t be able to sell my food, which means I won’t make any money.

I won’t be able to feed me or my wife, and I’ll have to sell our home. I hope to God this isn’t true, or my life will fall apart. Sometimes I let my mind wander, and think to myself, Oh God. No. The rumours were true. My section of the field has been bought. There’s nothing I can do. I can either starve to death, or I can spend what little money I have left on a ticket into the city, to try and find a job there. My wife will come too, and hopefully I can find work in the one of the new Godfrey & McCarthy Manufactories that I heard has opened up in Vermont. Hopefully. I shouldn’t let myself think like this. It’ll be ok, I just have to realise that for myself. I’ll get to keep my home, my stretch of land, and I won’t have to leave. It’ll all be ok. It has to be.

I’m so close to saving up enough money to buy some new livestock, and to get brought crashing down while I’m so close would be awful.

Vignette #2 Title: Perfection

Idea(s) being explored (theme): Head of factory’s life post-enclosure act

Specific historical connection: Enclosure act (from perspective of someone positively affected)

 

Life. Is. Good. Ever since my business partner, Lewis Godfrey and I, Jackson McCarthy, opened up our new factories, we’ve been practically rolling in cash. It cost us a lot of money to set up, but we’re getting our profit in spades. We’ve both earned almost $80 million from the products getting made, and that’s just in the few months since we opened our factory. This is going so well. My life is looking up!

I have so much to be proud of, and at only 33! I’m getting one of those new telephones tomorrow, and Godfrey and I are buying a new house together, worth over $120 million! I’ve never seen anyone rise this high. The seats on my new carriages are leather lined with velvet. I eat foods imported from all around the world, and our helpers reckon we’ll have made an additional $200 million each by the end of next year. I feel unstoppable!

My factory is almost overworked, so we make more products and I get more money. The only regret I have is that so many people are packed into our factories. We’ve not had any injuries, at least, not yet, but we can’t just build a new factory at the drop of a hat. It takes time, so some of these people are just going to have to make do for now. They probably wish they could be in my position right now. My life could not be more perfect.

Vignette #3 Title: Hopeless

Idea(s) being explored (theme): Farmer’s thoughts post-enclosure act

Specific historical connection: Enclosure act (from victim’s perspective)

 

My life could not be less perfect. This is terrible. It turns out the land was being bought, and there’s nothing that anyone  oils do, except for the new owner if he decided to sell the recently bought land, which I doubt he’ll do.

I’m in town now. The journey here cost me almost everything I had saved up. I saw one of the huge Godfrey & McCarthy factories almost immediately. It was hard to miss. I went in, looking for someone I could ask about applying for a job, but all I had to say was “can I apply for a-” to a lady standing at the door and she was leading me down a side door.

Next thing I knew, I was filling out an application and a release form. I was barely reading what was written on the papers, I just wanted the job. When it came to the next day, and I walked into the factory, I was wondering what these people were thinking hiring another person in this place. It was already packed. 

In the two weeks now that I’ve now been working in this factory, there’s been nothing enjoyable. I can’t wait for there to be an opportunity for me to get out of this hell. There are few workers planning to escape tomorrow night, and I decided to get in on that. It’s my only hope, unless I want to be doomed to lifetime of impossible work and almost nonexistent pay.

They say there’s a small shed in the housing area with tools in it. Hammers, pliers, crowbars, hopefully something we can use to break the chain at the back fence behind the housing area.

The reason we’re doing this so secretively, and not just quitting and walking out the front door is because there’s been talk about what the mill owners do to people who quit; they find them and follow them, bad mouthing them and making sure they never find another job. It’s completely illegal, but they’re rich and have a lot of influence, so who’s going to believe our word over theirs? That’s why we need to make sure they don’t know we’re gone until we’re miles away. We’re leaving sick notes with some of our colleagues who are deciding to stay, which will buy us a few days. Some people might get suspicious, considering 10 of their workers all happened to get sick at once, especially since the flu epidemic passed a month ago, but it should be enough for a little while before they start searching for us. Hopefully it’s enough time to get to the next town and maybe find a job there. It’s our only hope.