What exactly is being mourned?
Whiteness in The Last White Man is a dream.
It’s the neighborhood watch and home security.
It’s weight lifting in an old-school gym, men testing themselves against gravity.
It’s yoga in a scentless studio, women “staving off aging through attempts to remain supple.”
It’s going out drinking, going out dancing, going out to dinner.
It’s the myth that “a gun was a marker on the journey of death, and was to be respected as such, like a coffin or a grave or a meal in winter.”
It’s having no vocation and curating yourself online.
It’s feeling “cashed out, emotion-wise” but flush enough in cash for provisions to survive a race riot.
Primarily, it’s not being “dark.” (The word black is verboten in The Last White Man, appearing only once, to describe iron.)
What exactly is being born—or rather, borne? Darkness in The Last White Man is an ordeal.
Those who were already dark have little presence and no internal life in the novel.
There is no sense that they have cultures or mores; Anders still sees them, “he could not help it, … like a group of animals.”
Darkened Oona comes to notice “finer gradations in the texture of someone’s skin and the shape of their cheekbones and the nature of their hair,” but this somehow leads to a conceit comparing people to trees.
Darkness awakens “the ancient horrors … the almost forgotten savagery upon which the town was founded.”
Anders wonders if “maybe that was the point, the point of it was to break him, to break all of them, all of us, yes us, how strange to be forced into such an us.”
Despite its conciliatory tone, this echoes the narratives that Oona’s mother reads online about the savagery, the savagery of the dark people, how it had been in them from the beginning, and had manifested itself again and again throughout history, and could not be denied,
and she read the examples, the examples of when groups of whites had fallen, and the rapes and slaughters and tortures we had been subjected to, and how that was their way, the way of the dark people, whenever they seized the upper hand.