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Author's Note: I've received hate-mail for this story, and a never-ending slew of angry reviews. Every six months, somebody finds this story and shows it to friends and talks about how sick it is - how sick I am.
Generally I take such reviews with a degree of amusement; this is my most vilified piece, after-all. However, I have planned for quite some time to write a short analysis on this piece so people can understand exactly why I have not removed it from the community and why I occasion to be genuinely annoyed by the vicious mail I get.
I would like to be on the record stating that all of my triggers are clearly marked in both the summary and author's notes.
Analysis: Love with a Sharp-Toothed Comb.
In the short one-shot "Love with a Sharp-Toothed Comb" (hereafter refered to LSC) the anthropomorphic form of the United States of America, or Alfred F. Jones is attacked by a humanized version of the Hurricane Katrina, which occurred between August 23rd and 30 2005 ce. This attack primarily takes the form of a violent and non-consensual sexual act. Where the United States of America, or America is described as being wholly human in intelligence, emotional capacity and form, only differing in his immortality, the natural disaster is portrayed as inherently animalistic.
Despite her human-like form, she is violent, and shows no evidence of many human emotions. Notably, natural disasters are described as "more sentient" as their comparative strength grows, and for "each passing, burning second of speed, she becomes so close to human" implying that the strength of a hurricane is classified by speed, indicating that as a tropical storm she is far more animal than her more human time as a hurricane.
Another key difference in Katrina is that she differs significantly in lifespan to both America and otherwise normal human beings: she lives for approximately a week, and much of it is spent with poor understanding of her own existence. However, when "she knows she is not long for this world... she will use [America] up in her death throes" because "she realizes he will live and she will not". This violent reaction to her mortality largely comes from Katrina desiring to make the most of her short existence, particularly at the expense of a person who will survive her, even going so far as to describe the violent rape of America as "possessing him" and essentially validating her brief presence.
However, Katrina's desire to to make America scream her name during her violence and dissatisfaction with simply harming America, even referring to her need to hear him scream her name as the refined definition for "possessing him" indicates that Katrina is not primarily seeking simply violence as a validation of her existence, but rather her impact on an immortal nation is instead her claim to immortality. This mirrors in some ways the relationship between Fortuna and The Harpy of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle: Fortuna has captured the harpy and whilst she is aware the harpy will eventually be free, the harpy will "remember forever that [Fortuna] caught her...there's my immortality". Similarly, Katrina seeks for America to remember her abuse of him forever, and a greater part of that is his memory of her identity - and thus her name.
Notably, despite Katrina's efforts, America instead invokes Katrina's name as "an epitaph" or death sentence. During the rape, he repeatedly refers to Katrina's impending death, though it upsets her and causes her to bite him. Repeatedly through the matter he denies her, even mocks her, and otherwise "waits for Katrina to be done with him". Even when he indicates he will remember her name, it remains about the human lives she has taken and not her, shown more clearly that even as Katrina is dying, and as a fellow anthropomorphization he might "feel sorry" for her, but the grief of his people is of more value to him and he is instead cold to her as her life ends.
Whilst it can be argued that the story attempts to develop more sympathy for the inanimate hurricane than the very real human tragedy, as much of the narrative process and dialogue focuses on Katrina's desperation. Despite this, America is the human character with which the reader is intended to sympathize, demonstrated in his lack of sadism, and position as the victim. America's ultimate rejection of Katrina in lieu of human life indicates that whilst he and Katrina have similarities in being personification, Katrina is ultimately valueless to him, instead being more concerned for human beings.
Further references to the human tragedy placed with more emphasis than Katrina herself - both her violence and her personified death - are the precise "flares of pain [that] bleed through his head ... six" which represent the initial death count of Katrina's attack, and the accuracy with which the hurricane's path is tracked, showing that ultimately America's focus is upon the injury to human life. This is still most clearly seen in his impudence towards the hurricane, even as she criticizes his struggles saying that "he has no business fighting her [off]" because she is a natural disaster, America is concerned with whether or not she will further hurt people.
The focus on pity throughout the story, as well as vulnerability is palpable: America lacks pity for Katrina, Katrina lacks pity for America, Katrina has a wild strength, America has a staying strength but remains in a victimized position. Returning to Katrina's death sequence going from a "wild strength" to fragility, being, "made up of spider webs...and will not last the evening" is treated as something she almost expects pity to finally exist for, just as America shows pity and care for the vulnerable humanity, instead Katrina's life and death is still essentially worthless. This ultimately indicates that humanity is considered far more important than either America as a concept or Katrina.
Therefore we can conclude that the story is not about whether or not Katrina was deserving of pity, but instead that she was not deserving of pity and was even at the height of her sentience, fundamentally non-real, just as America himself was. At no point in the story does Katrina show sympathy for the human life, or even acknowledge it, instead focusing on America as a concept, showing a clear difference in viewpoint between her and the character intended as the one seen to be correct: America. Where America may have sympathized with Katrina as being like himself, he instead recognizes and accordingly responds to the real trauma: not his own, but that of humans, as "Katrina will die" and he will live "whether or not [people are hurt]" and it is the possibility of people being harmed or escaping harm that holds more value over a mortal hurricane or immortal nation. .
tl;dr: America could feel sorry for Katrina because they are both concepts, but where the inanimate hurricane is ignorant to its own irrelevance, the essentially human concept of America knows neither nation nor hurricane matter, in lieu of the loss of human life.
May your quills be ever sharp.