City of Light: a symbolic analysis of the concept City of Light deliberated in The 100

Ayoub Bouamri

2021 / 10 / 13

City of Light
If you are living in a dark world where you witness death daily. A sphere full of pain, anger, hate, and regret. Then you probably would like the concept “City of Light”. A site where all your pain is released. A unique place where death unleashes the mind and pain means nothing. Something out of this cosmos, nobody knows where it exists exactly, but they radically believe that it does. This is how City of light is represented in the American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series, The 100.

Thelonious Jaha
Jaha is a black man with an omnipresent smile pretending that he knows the absolute truth. Someone who visited the legendary City of Light and is eager to tell his story. He can talk with the Creator of that outsider site, and he believes that her words are sublime and must be obeyed. The Creator gave him (and the other followers) the free will. That is to say, they have the ability to define their fate. Yet, Jaha refuses to enjoy this gift-;- he strongly believes that this is a fault. For him, a human being does not deserve to decide what is right for him.

The Key
If you are rational enough, then you may believe that the key to release a physical pain is to visit a doctor, while the solution to get rid of a psychological ache is to visit a psychiatrist. For Jaha, and the Creator, this is a waste of time. To release pain, all you need is to swallow the pill named The Key. This concept introduces itself as a magical solution for all kinds of sickness. Unlike visiting a doctor, swallowing the pill is easy, free, available, and has immediate results that even doctors cannot offer. Yet, it does not actually release the pain, it only dismisses the person’s feeling of pain. Thus, the sickness is there, but the person cannot feel it.

The concepts of eternality´-or-deathlessness are omnipresent. Death in the dark world means deathlessness in the City of Light. Therefore, death is no more frightening. Instead, it is a release from the low world to the high one. The believer sees a painful and unnecessary being off to join a sublime and eternal life. Thus, they are always ready to protect the Creator and her ideas, even if this could cost them their lives.

The Creator
She is unquestionable by her followers and invisible to the unbelievers. Only those who have faith in her, and swallowed the pill, can see her. She is with everyone and no one. Her existence is questionable. She does not have a biological state, yet, she can control those who have it. The story perceives her as artificial intelligence. She thinks through numerical operations instead of chemical interactions, and she is compound of silicon instead of blood and meat. According to the legend, she created the new earth, City of Light, and The Key. Her real-self came from the sky (a space station). To sum up, she is sublime, deathlessness, untouchable, and has eternal knowledge.

After the previously given details, watching the Creator setting on the most powerful throne of the new age would be a predictable sequence in the flow of events. The term Heda can be translated as queen. It represents the highest leadership on earth. The Creator had to ally with Heda in order to fulfill her goal. Actually, ally is a weak term. To be more precise, Heda became a follower of the Creator.

Once a person swallows the pill, s/he becomes blind. The effect of The Key is very strong. The series demonstrates this point in a very significant way. It shows how fanatic believers turn against their beloved ones. They would kill´-or-hurt anyone to protect the Creator. Mother, friend, daughter, brother, lover… They do not matter to them-;- their subjection to the Creator is stronger than any secular human relationship. In other words, the Creator’s followers are ready to kill the nonbelievers without paying any small attention to what they perform to them. Furthermore, the believers’ being is worthless. They would forfeit their lives cheerfully if this serves the Creator’s agenda.

Symbolically speaking, the series criticizes religion in a very clever way. Firstly, City of Light symbolizes heaven. A site where everyone lives in eternal happiness. It unites people and releases them from earthly pains. Yet, its existence is questionable. During the emergence of the concept, City of Light was introduced as a legendary site. Subsequently, it became an unreal and vague site. Finally, it was destroyed and gone for good. The last event symbolizes the end of that legend since the site is unreal to be destroyed. In other words, symbolically speaking, what was actually destroyed is the legend of the unreal City of Light.

The destruction of City of Light has various meanings. Another significant meaning can be constructed through analyzing the person who destroyed that site. It was a human being. Someone who does not have superpowers´-or-metaphysical capacities. Therefore, the legend of City of Light is weak to the extent that a normal human being can destroy it. Keep in mind that the City of Light is the symbolic representation of Heaven.

Secondly, Jaha represents the religions’ prophets and clerks. He has the characteristics of many religions’ messengers-;- talking to God, visiting heaven, crowding followers, having the absolute truth… Of course, these characteristics are illusory. The Creator is only inside his head, City of Light is unreal, and his knowledge is very-limit-ed. Yet, ironically, he succeeded in crowding thousands of followers.

This character castigates the way a crowd thinks. Especially, a religious crowd. If someone like Jaha, who could be mentally ill, control them-;- then they must be a foolish crowd. When Jaha returned to his normal state after the City of Light was destroyed, he regretted everything he did unconsciously. He drove a blind crowd of believers to their absolute death, and this is what exactly the prophets and clerks did throughout history.
Modern Discussion