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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book The Twenty-One Balloons is a story about a utopian society. It's an ideal place of respect for everybody's individuality. A dystopia is the opposite. The Merriam-Websterdictionary defines "dystopia" as follows.

An imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives.

If you compare that simple definition to the society that is present in the story, it should be clear that the people are not living in a dystopia. The dictionary definition provided is fairly limited, and dystopian novels have continued to be popular among readers. While each individual story may be different, there are some consistent characteristics present in various dystopian societies.

  • There is some kind of leader or concept that is supposed to be worshiped by the people in the story.
  • Information, freedom, and independent thought are restricted or illegal. This characteristic especially stands out against The Twenty-One Balloons because that is a story about a society that values cooperation, creativity, and individuality.
  • Propaganda is used to control people.
  • Surveillance is used constantly to monitor and control the population.
  • Citizens are taught to fear the outside world.
  • Uniformity is an important part of societal control. Individuality is not promoted.
  • Society members are dehumanized.
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The Twenty-One Balloons

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