How could Flatland be related to a real event in history?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Flatland concerns the first contact between the residents of a two-dimensional land and the three-dimensional universe. Although the narrator, a two-dimensional Square, is educated and intelligent, he finds it impossible to understand the concept of a third dimension before he sees it; he is first terrified of the Sphere who visits him, and then regards the Sphere as some sort of supreme being.

This is similar to the reaction of native peoples when visited by technologically superior societies for the first time. In a way, Flatland is a metaphor for first contact with technologically superior/inferior people. Many indigenous peoples, being at a more primitive technological level, don't understand how more modern societies are able to perform great feats of strength and medicine. A cargo cult would be a good example; when visited by airplanes and given food and gifts, the people in the tribe didn't understand how the airplane worked and instead of trying to stay in contact or creating their own goods, they built representations of the airplane in an attempt to recreate the conditions. Like the Square, some primitive societies regarded superior cultures as gods, but usually only until they came to disagreement.


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