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What are some good dystopian/philosophical novels dealing with structure in...

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lshenkman | Student | Honors

Posted October 6, 2012 at 10:52 PM via web

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What are some good dystopian/philosophical novels dealing with structure in society?

What are some good dystopian/philosophical novels dealing with structure in society? Some examples include novels such as Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, 1984, and the Giver Trilogy (just to name a few.) Please exclude novels about aliens or any novels filled with technology.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 6, 2012 at 11:14 PM (Answer #2)

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Orson Scott Card wrote a wonderful group of books. Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow are two of them. Both novels address the same story, but, told from different perspectives, they tell the story completely different. While there is some technology in these novels, it is not the predominant element used. Also, there are more novels included, but as they are not told in a series, they can be read in different order or only as an individual novel.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 6, 2012 at 11:59 PM (Answer #3)

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I like Ray Bradbury's short stories. They explore issues of technology, automation, and consequences of progress. For example, "A Sound of Thunder" is about a company that lets you pay for time travel to shoot dinosaurs, but stepping on a butterfly alters the course of the future.
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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 7, 2012 at 12:50 AM (Answer #4)

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Because so many dystopian novels are set far in the future, it's difficult to think of some that don't involve technology in some way. The obvious example that is not in the list is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, though it certainly features technological change. Other dystopian novels that focus more on society are We by Yevgeny Zamatyin (which I mention because it was very influential on Orwell's thinking as he wrote 1984,) Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, and Anthem by Ayn Rand, which is an interesting book though not, in my opinion, as nuanced as some of the other dystopian novels.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 7, 2012 at 2:14 AM (Answer #5)

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Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank is a great piece of dystopian literature that easily meets your requirements.  Free of aliens or technology, the novel tells what happens to America after nuclear attack.  The author focuses on a small Florida town, giving a real and gritty look at how life could continue on without all of the things that most Americans take for granted: infrastructure, technology, protection of the law, reliable medical care.  This novel excellently addresses the theme of structure in society by effectively removing that structure the moment the bombs fall; Franks' story poses many excellent questions about the enduring qualities of civilization and the human will to survive.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 7, 2012 at 4:14 PM (Answer #6)

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The Prince is not a novel, but is a work looking at social structure and the mechanisms of power. Maybe something a bit closer to what you are looking for would be The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. 

 It is the story of an economic system that destroys Jurgis Rudkus and his family, treating them no better than the cattle that are slaughtered and vivisected in the book's most horrific and memorable scenes.

This novel is not exactly dystopian, but it is certainly known for taking a deep look at society. 

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 8, 2012 at 4:10 AM (Answer #7)

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I would recommend Yevegny Zamyatin's We. Written in 1920, the novel is set in the future of the 29th century. Zamyatin's texts explores the subjugation of human rights like Orwell's 1984, but its epistolary form and earlier creation make is a more intersting read.

Suzanne Collins'Hunger Gamesseries is also an engaging view of a dystopian society.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 8, 2012 at 2:07 PM (Answer #8)

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One of my favorites is Jerzy Kozinski's The Painted Bird, a story of a boy on the run while undergoing the hardships of the Holocaust. He encounters unimaginable forms of perversity, cruelty and horror during his travels from place to place, losing the ability to talk before finally regaining his freedom.

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portd | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted October 8, 2012 at 6:01 PM (Answer #9)

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a novel that deals with the structure (and lack thereof) in society after some sort of devastating worldwide destructive event takes place. The novel highlights the breakdown of society - a society in which human beings can no longer depend on technology to see them through. While there are no aliens in this novel, there are a number of examples in the story that deal with human beings alienating themselves from one another in many ways in order to survive. In the aftermath of the destruction of society and its ways, human beings are resorting to viciousness and cannibalism to survive - it is every man, woman, and child for themselves in this harrowing story of man's fall.

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:04 PM (Answer #10)

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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is an excellent novel. In a departure from her usual stories, Atwood presents a creative outlook on who should control women's bodies. 

Sometime in the future, a young woman Offred is a Handmaiden in a Republic call Gilead. She is the narrator of the story. Women have sunk to the bottom of the "food chain."  They are no longer allowed to read, so all signs or anything that is used for understanding must be in picture form. 

Here is the really disgusting part, the Handmaid no longer has control over her life.  Once, a month she has to lie down for the Commander and hope that he makes her pregnant. The handmaids are only kept if their ovaries are able to be impregnated. Love has been taken out of the picture and surprisingly the number of births have declined. 

Sadly, Offred can remember a time when she made love to her husband and played with her daughter. At one time, her life was normal: she had job, money, and a home.  

Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn't really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn't about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.

What an imagination Atwood has! This is a great story with very interesting characters. 

This dystopian theocracy  was established in the future United States.  Gilead's government has been organized by religious fanatics, basing their theology on a couple of chapters from the Old Testament, specifically the story about Sarah, Abraham's wife, who could not bear children;  therefore, she  gave Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, to conceive children with her. Also, that Biblical chapter provides God's command to Hagar to completely submit to the wife or mistress of Abraham.
 
This is a story of a government completely out of control.  It was made into a movie in  1990 starring Natasha Richardson, one of the Redgrave daughters.  As usual, the movie does not equate with the book.  Focusing on the sexual aspects of the story, the real message is lost.

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