In the dystopian future that Neal Shusterman has created in Unwind, “unwinding” a child is not considered murder. Unwanted teenagers (until age 18) can be disassembled and their organs transplanted to people who need them. It is emphasized that 100% of the child will live on, though merely in a divided state. As one child in the novel points out, “unwinds” are statistically more likely to go on to greatness. Unfortunately, it turns out that unwinding children is more controversial and complicated than was originally foreseen.
Unwinding children began after Heartland War. Fought between pro-choice and pro-life supporters, America’s second civil war resulted in the Bill of Life, which ends the war. Among these laws is a legal determination that life is inviolable from conception until age thirteen, at which point families can choose to “retroactively abort” their child. It is reported that this agreement satisfies both the pro-life and pro-choice stances. Although laws like the Bill of Life were passed to make the world a better place, some people argue that laws are powerless to change human nature.
Still others find that although the Bill of Life was meant to protect the sanctity of life, it has unfortunately “cheapened it.” Abortion is illegal. In its place has arisen “storking.” Storking occurs when a teenage mother does not want her child, so she places it on the doorstep of an unsuspecting family. That family is bound by law to care for the child, which in the least means sending it to a State Care Home. Storked babies are usually associated with hope and purity, but many families find them a chore.
Many families do care for their storked children, but they may choose to have these children unwound later, particularly if those children are deviants or if they become an unnecessary expense. However, not all unwinds are miscreants. Some parents choose to “tithe” their children. Just as some Christian churches ask their congregation to give 10% of their income to the church, so too do some families choose to “give back” to their community with 10% of their children. Tithes are considered by many to be a higher class than ordinary children, in contrast to unwinds, which are a lower class.
Although every part of the unwound child lives on after transplantation, some people consider unwinding an abomination. Consequently, an anonymous network has developed to...
(The entire section is 2282 words.)
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