POST 3: What interests you the most about dystopias (specifically the dystopia you have read independently)? Use this post as an opportunity to explore possible questions or avenues of inquiry for your own research project. At this stage, your ideas may only be as developed as “I think it is really cool/interesting that dystopias do XYZ” or “What I don’t understand about this book is…” Aim to articulate an open question related to your independent reading that you hope to be able to answer after weeks of research (and one that you don’t feel you can answer now). Consider this an informal research paper proposal.
While all dystopias take place in a near or distant future, what I find most interesting about some dystopias is the regression of society into a more primitive community. And I’m not talking about the 100 in the way that they have to survive a desolate environment using whatever resources they can find- that is a post-apocalyptic setting. For example, in my independent reading novel, Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano, everyone on the floating city of Internment has betrothed from the moment they are born. Arranged marriage is alive and well in their society, a practice that has been all but eliminated in countries like the United States, which is where we assume Internment came from when it was wrenched out of the ground and sent to the sky. Similarly, while women are never directly addressed as lesser than men, most of the women we do meet (besides our heroine and her best friend), are weaker, more fragile, and in charge of homemaking. While society gets more and more progressive with the passage of time for the most part (*cough*cough*), in some dystopias, the opposite becomes true. Since a fundamental component of the dystopian novel is a corrupt government, perhaps the author is trying to show that the regression of societal morals can come with a regression in societal structure.
Another aspect of dystopia I find rather interesting is the small measures of common brutality that take place and are considered normal. Instead of the Hunger Games- that is a large, pageant style event that celebrates mass fatalities- I’m more concerned with things like the choosing ceremony in Divergent. They could just announce their faction and be done with it, but instead the teens have to cut their palms and pour their blood over the symbol of the faction. In Perfect Ruin, teens who are betrothed wear a wedding ring around their neck until their wedding ring. But this isn’t just any ordinary ring- it’s filled with the blood of their fiancée. Authors probably choose to do this to fully drive home the brutality of every aspect of the dystopian society. Every part of dystopian life is painful, and these small acts of violence are the way the government keeps its citizens in line.
And here’s a lovely dystopian meme for your troubles: