How do I challenge the statement "a utopia is impossible" using The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

All of these books are about societies with strict regulations that maintain order in daily life. 

You have chosen three dystopias to challenge the concept of dystopia.  In all of these books, things have gone horribly wrong.  You could argue, however, that the societies involved started out with good intentions.  In order to maintain order, though, the society's leaders took away rights from the majority of their citizens and created a very oppressive world. 

In The Hunger Games, Panem was wracked with civil war for years.  In order to calm things down and create peace, the community came up with an unusual solution: the country was divided into thirteen districts and a capitol, with strict regulations controlling all of the districts.  I am sure that if you lived in the Capitol, where everyone enjoys an excess of prosperity, you might think it was a utopia indeed. 

Haymitch had called the Avoxes traitors. Against what? It could only be the Capitol. But they had everything here. No cause to rebel. (Ch. 6) 

The Avoxes are mutes who have been severely punished for some infraction.  The other major punishment is imposed on the districts themselves.  Each year, there is a drawing to choose two children from every district who will fight to the death in the Hunger Games, which are broadcast throughout Panem.  The idea is that Panem will never be at war again because the districts pay a yearly penance—the blood of their children. 

Just like in The Hunger Games, the world in Divergent suffered a cataclysmic event and had to re-order itself.  The decision was made to organize society into factions based on personality traits.  Like The Hunger Games, it is set in what used to be America (this time Chicago).  There is a test to determine the faction a person enters.  It takes place at the age of sixteen.  All sixteen-year-olds take a test that suggests a faction for them, but they are allowed to choose any of the five factions at the Choosing Ceremony. 

Today is the day of the aptitude test that will show me which of the five factions I belong in. And tomorrow, at the Choosing Ceremony, I will decide on a faction; I will decide the rest of my life; I will decide to stay with my family or abandon them. (Ch. 9) 

What could possibly go wrong?  As might be expected, society is not as orderly and simple as it may seem.  Violence often erupts between factions.  Things are worse for those without a faction, who are ostracized. 

There is more to find likable in The Giver, at least on the surface.  Like Divergent, the society controls your destiny.  The children in The Giver start a little earlier, as they are assigned jobs at the age of twelve.  There is also a ceremony, called The Ceremony of Twelve.  The strict rules enforce Sameness, which means that everyone looks alike and acts according to predetermined regulations.  Like in The Hunger Games, anyone who doesn’t fit in is severely punished (this time by death, called release): 

For a contributing citizen to be released from the community was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure. (Ch. 1) 

As with the other communities, there are some advantages to this process.  There is no crime, homelessness, or unemployment.  Everyone has enough to eat.  It is true that no one gets to make choices, and they can’t even see colors, but choices can be stressful.  Society's leaders even control the weather!

Perhaps it should be said that utopia is in the eye of the beholder.  Each of these communities is designed to protect its citizens and maintain order.  While this results in a reduction of freedoms, the communities have put the good of the whole over that of each individual.  Is it so bad to give up a few children a year, or have your life's path determined for you at a young age?

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team