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What are ideas for a dystopian short story?I need to write a fictional dystopian short...

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biancastivelman | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 27, 2012 at 5:48 PM via web

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What are ideas for a dystopian short story?

I need to write a fictional dystopian short story. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:58 AM (Answer #1)

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In the preparation for writing a dystopian short story, the student may wish to peruse narratives already written as allegories or satires of such attempts to create idyllic societies.  Among such narratives are the novels Brave New World by Aldous Huxly and The Giver by Lois Lowry, while among short stories are Ursula LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" as well as Ray Bradbury's "The Vedt" and "There Willl Come Soft Rains."

The  perfect communities created in these dystopias are all formed at the expense of some human condition.  In Brave New World, for instance, people have been genetically engineered and conditioned to think and feel certain ways.  In other words, they have been desensitized and dehumanized.  In Lowry's community of The Giver, as well as in LeGuin's town of Omelas one individual must know and experience pain so that others can be without it.  In addition, others are often sacrificed for the greater good such as the euthanasia of the unfit in Lowry's community or the miserable creature of Omelas. In Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" mediocrity is accepted so that all will "be equal" and people are made to wear handicaps if they possess superior qualities.

At any rate, in all the dystopias, sacrifices of genuine emotion and humanity have been made in order to maintain contentment.  But, happiness cannot be attained with the antithesis of pain, for one's joy is in direct proportion to the amount of sorrow one has also experienced. Thus, pain and suffering and individual differences are what truly make people human; without these feelings, the members of a society must be constrained and artificially made to feel content whether it is by subduing others with handicaps, conditioning people and having them ingest a feel-good drug such as Huxley's soma, or by assigning a scapegoat to feel the pain for others such as in Omelas or Lowry's community.   

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