All posts by Nyambura Iruku

The title of my paper is Dystopia and the Real World. The main argument I want to exclaim in my upcoming conference paper is the fact that the current world we live in is a dystopia. I go through the ways in which we defined a dystopia and establish why they are applicable to the real world.

To further my definition of the real world as a dystopia I use articles that explain why and how first world countries are similar to the elite societies and third world countries are relatable to the poor societies, tying in the class system and capitalism. I also include a very interesting article on how drastic and scary situations lead to more dystopic control. This article talks about the Trayvon Martin case and how it changed the laws and what it may lead to.

After establishing how the current world is a dystopia, I compare our real life situations to those we have read and seen in books and movies. I establish how the issues that characters go thorough in the books are similar to our life and how sometimes it’s hard for us to see that based on our personal situations. I show how political and personal background can affect how readers interpret a dystopia and the reaction reader have after reading.

My overall conference paper establishes connections of the real world to dystopias, explaining how our backgrounds, personal and political, effect how we read and react to dystopias and that reaction transitions our world into more of a dystopia. I hope that my paper sparks interest on the effect dystopias can have unintentionally on our lives and the real world and what that means for our future. As a generation that has read a lot of dystopias, and students who have studied dystopias for a long time, I think it’s important to look at the after effect and how to see the signs that a society like that is coming.

I am really interested in the division between classes in dystopias. In The Hunger Games, that division impacted the likelihood of success in the games. Your wealth, status, and quality of life is determined simply by the location you are born. This is really intriguing to me because, for the most part, you have to be born into success rather than work for it, which is so different from our world today.

In my independent reading, Legend, two characters receive perfect scores on a test that determines whether or not they go to college and receive good jobs. The one from the Elite district is accepted into a top college and promised a successful government job. The character from the Poor district doesn’t have the same luck. His score is hidden and on public record, it said he failed. He then is sent to be tested on in labs. In the labs, his eyes were dissected to see why he had such great eyesight, his muscles were prodded to see why they were so strong, and his heart was medicated to see how string his heart was. These tests were so extensive that they “killed” him, leading to the question asking why their situations were so different.

While I know this idea is really vague, I hope to specify it by elaborating on what creates the divisions in society and why the Elite district feels so threatened by the Poor district. Hopefully my research will explain why they rely so much on surveillance and controlling the Poor district with disease or games. I want to focus my research on the reason of the citizens in the elite districts rather than the reasoning the government gives them.

I really want to write about this because it is a question I have continuously asked myself while reading and watching dystopias. How they could tolerate the unjust treatment of others simply based on the family they were born into. To just sit back and watch while people suffer seems so heartless and makes those characters seem less human.

When it comes to dystopias, there is always a group of people who are being controlled. This may be to prevent a rebellion or to hide information, but it can be assumed that part of the population has strict rules to keep them from falling out of line.

Strict rules and the presence of enforcement usually aren’t enough to convince a population of their inferiority because it entices anger and unites them. In most dystopias, there needs to be the presence of fear of an outside force that keeps the population in line and propaganda is a reliable way to entice that fear.

In my independent reading book, Legend by Marie Lu, propaganda plays a large role in convincing the population to be scared. Throughout the story, there are giant billboards that release information about threats. There is the threat of the enemy Colonies on the beloved Republic, the threat of the Patriot rebels who slow down the war effort, and the threat of criminals who defy the Republic’s rules and regulations. All of these threats are then exaggerated and displayed in public locations to justify the rules and police enforcement that are present.

In Legend, the notorious criminal Day’s wanted poster is displayed frequently around the Republic. This propaganda is significant because it instills fear into the citizens of a person they don’t even know. The government even has no idea what Day looks like so they use a different photograph each time. In the visual above, it is clear how the words used to describe Day are accusatory without actual specifics on what he’s done. The term “hindering the war effort” is very vague and alludes to an unnecessary violence when in reality all of his actions were for survival.

This poster is an important example of propaganda in Legend because it shows how much the government depends on the citizens. They ultimately wanted Day to be caught, but realized they weren’t capable of capturing him without the help of the citizens, using money to entice them. This represents the need for the controlling force to appear “protecting” to the citizens in order to keep their trust and to accomplish tasks they can’t do without them.


Lu, Marie. Legend. Penguin Group, 2011.


Previously, when I thought of the genre of dystopia, I would think of a futuristic society with a strict government and fearful citizens. All of the books and movies I had witnessed focused on these aspects. But, the more I research and learn about dystopias, the more I realize there is more to it.

One characteristic of a dystopian society that never fails to exist is that the fear of some citizens is not the same for all. There always seems to be a class system that dictates the oppressed and acts favorably to others. This characteristic makes it difficult for some to see the society as troubled and for others to see it as perfect. One example of this is how in The Hunger Games, citizens of the lower districts see the unfairness of games and distribution of food, while citizens of the Capital may see the society as perfect.

While the cause of the hierarchy may differ from scenario to scenario, this significant detail creates a separation between the citizens that leads to tension. The higher class is convinced the society has no flaws and the plight of lower classes is their own fault. The lower class is forced into uniform expectations where their freedoms are restricted and they see the upper class as untouchable. Usually in dystopias, the government enforces this tension and uses propaganda and fear to contain the lower class, but there always seems to be a rebellion.

Because I feel this aspect of dystopia is so essential, my definition of a dystopia is based on its truth. I define a dystopia as an imagined, futuristic society that is illusions to be perfect, but in reality favors an upper class creating tension throughout its citizens.

While there are many other aspects that characterize a dystopia, the illusion of a utopia is the most important in my opinion. It outlines a division in the citizens that eventually results in discontent and rebellion.