As young adults come of age, one of the essential duties of any society, dystopian or utopian, real or fictional, is the preparation of those young people for their roles as productive citizens. In The Scorpion Rules, Bow presents a story set in what is both a prison and a school for future world leaders. They learn, hands-on, humility and the principles of sustainable agriculture. In the classroom they are taught history, philosophy, and the futility of standing against the AI. It is this sense of powerlessness that serves as the cornerstone of many dystopian regimes, and it is in answer to this feeling that many writers choose to present an alternative to today’s youth.
The modern world faces dark times as the art of mass surveillance is perfected, the political elite seem bent on sewing division and dependence, and the great capitalist industrial complex refuses to respect our shared resources and habitat. How then do we entice our young people to abandon this despondence? How do we instill them not merely with a sense of vague, unjustified hope but with a sure and rational sense of social agency?
The Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen begins the series responsible for the survival of herself and her family. She is a capable and experienced provider, adapting to her environment with skill and cunning, yet she does not consider her potential to change the world. She refers to the games as “the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy” (18). Many young readers will empathize with this point of view. The rise from an obscure life of mere subsistence to become a true agent of revolution is a powerful and enviable story, though rather an emotional and perhaps unrealistic one. Don’t we need more than simple pathos in our appeal to the next generation? For my research, I intend to consider the rhetoric with which we teach agency, particularly focusing on the logical side of arguments. (Hopefully we can agree that young adults have logical sides to which to appeal.)
Bow, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016, New York.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2009, New York.
Good, Thomas Altfather. Climate Protest UMaine. Wikimedia Commons, 21 Sep. 2014, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TAG_Climate_Protest_UMaine.jpg.