Character Opinions and Subtext
I'm reading a book now, overall an enjoyable one, a post-apocalyptic story where it's clear that for a long span of time humans lived in isolated communities, giving rise to many visually distinctive ethnic groups. One thing bothers me, though--the main character judges people very much based on how much they resemble her own ethnic group. On the one hand, it makes sense--given the far-future (but not technologically advanced) settings and cultures, things that make the book work on many levels, it's logical that she'd identify immediately with those who look like her. In fact it's probably an honest acknowledgment of something we all do to some extent.
So it isn't that exactly that bothers me...but the fact that the story so far, and I'm nearly done with it, does little to undermine that opinion. There are some kind and trustworthy people from other ethnic groups and some treacherous people from her own, but very few. And those who prove kind are those the main character trusted on first seeing them, while the treacherous prove those she immediately dislikes on seeing them. So the underlying subtext seems to be to trust our prejudices.
Given the author, I'm certain this wasn't an intentional subtext. Yet it seems to be there, pretty prominently. Maybe in the final 75 pages something will seriously undermine it, so no final judgment on it yet. But for now it has me thinking about making genuinely honest and believable characters who don't share your values without making it look like those are your values. As well, it brings to mind all the things an author might unintentionally reveal about their own biases through subtext...except I'm hoping that I'm misinterpreting that in this case.