Breaking Down Dystopia: The Hunger Games – part 3

Dear Jerry,
This week we will be bringing our series to an end by talking about what we can learn from these amazing books that we seem to love so much. The past two weeks I have talked about the capital and how they think, then I talked about how the districts work, and eventually how Katniss defied the Capital.
The Hunger Games is a great book that many, many people love, but what can we take out of it? Well for starters it gives us a reality of how powerful the government can get, and how easily it can get out of control. The districts of Panam were not always separated into districts, and they had not always had to participate in the Hunger Games. But once the country rose up against the Capital, the Capital found it necessary to split them up so they were less powerful and scare them with the Hunger Games. This is a great example of why we need to make sure our government does not become more powerful than us.
Another thing is that it gives us another perspective of “reality” T.V shows. Nowadays we have shows like Surviver, Wipe Out, or even the Bachelor, that encourage us to cheer for people to get hurt, either physically, or emotionally. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like the Capital. In The Hunger Games, the Capital puts on the games and sits back to watch people die, or get hurt, and that is what we are beginning to do in our own world today. With shows like these, we are not far off from the Capital.
With all of that being said, what are you entertained by? I think The Hunger Games gives us many chances to examine ourselves and also examine our government. But if there is one thing I want to leave you with, it is that you should never stop asking questions, that is what Katniss did, and it changed her world and everyone else’s world around her, for the better.


Breaking Down Dystopia: Enders Game: Part 3

Dear Jerry,

This is the final week of the series “Breaking Down Dystopia” by the One Room Bloggers. On week one, I talked about the supposedly perfect world of Enders Game. On week two, I discussed the breakdown of the world. Basically, what fell apart and what went wrong. This week I will tell you all about what I think that the author was trying to teach us through the book.

So, the basic premise of the book implied that they were using children for soldiers, because, there was a theory that the children thought in different ways than adults and as such were more fit to fight the Formics, aka, the Buggers (the alien race that was growing larger and could potentially invade earth a second time, causing massive casualties and damage). The commanders in Battle School saw Ender through surveillance and they noticed his brutality and ruthlessness. They recruited him to the school and trained him rigorously. After about a year they transferred him to a small moon Eros, that used to be a former base of the Buggers. There, he received further training from the hero of the I.F., Mazer Rackam.

I think the author of Enders Game wanted us to contemplate three big questions: what is a just war, is the good of one person worth sacrificing for the good of many people, and is it acceptable to have child soldiers. This book, when read properly, is a shocking book. Children in a war that is designed to annihilate an entire race that is posing no immediate threat? That is some serious stuff. First, was the war on the Buggers a just war? I think that is was not. There was no immediate threat posed by the Formics. So far, they were peaceful and unthreatening. There was no need to attack them. Second, is the good of the one person worth sacrificing for the good of the world? Enders childhood was destroyed. He was about seven years old when he was enrolled in Battle School and about twelve when he finished. Was it really worth taking his early childhood and using him to defeat a possible threat to Earths future? I have mixed emotions on this question. Saving the world is certainly a good thing but taking a child out of his home to go in to the military is a bad thing. Lastly, is it acceptable to have children as soldiers? I think most, if not all people, would say that the answer is an unequivocal “NO!!!” Children should not have to bear the horrors of war.

Enders Game will make you think very hard. The whole book is one big ethical dilemma. It is a very serious book talking about some very serious stuff!

I hope this series, Breaking Down Dystopia, will encourage you to take a closer look at the dystopian novels that are flooding into the young peoples section in our local library’s.



Breaking Down Dystopia: Divergent – Part 2

Dear Jerry,

Last time, I was telling you about the book Divergent and the perfect system that had been created.  Today I am going to continue on by talking about the breakdown of this structured world. Beatrice Prior had taken her aptitude test to see which faction she should choose. The results she got were inconclusive. She showed equal aptitude for three factions: Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. This makes her “Divergent” and she was warned never to share this information with anyone for fear of her life. On the choosing day, surprising her brother and parents, Beatrice choose to leave Abnegation and move to Dauntless.

There are three stages of training for Dauntless initiates. The first involves weapons and hand-to-hand combat. The second puts a person under a simulation in which they experience different fears. They are observed and tested on how fast they can defeat those fears. The most important stage is the last. It is the one every initiate prepares for the whole time. They are put into a fear landscape that is designed specifically for each individual. You are forced to experience your worst fears and defeat them. After the final test, if you pass you are injected with a tracking serum that is only meant to be activated if someone goes missing.

Because Beatrice (Tris) is Divergent, she is able to control the simulations. Her Dauntless instructor watched her results and recognized that she was Divergent. He warned her again to keep it a secret. If they ever found out, the faction leaders would eliminate her. Divergent’s threaten the perfect systematic world they have created.

Right before her final test, Tris finds out that the Erudite faction leaders were planning to invade the Abnegation. And they planned to use the Dauntless by activating their tracking serums. It would put them under a mindless simulation that could be controlled. The plan was carried out that night. All of the Dauntless became robots under the control of the Erudite leaders.

The Divergent were the only ones who were not effected by the serum. The Dauntless moved into Abnegation and a war broke out. The perfect Utopia that had been created had broken. The thirst for power was too great and it overtook the Erudite leaders. This was the breakdown that was the ultimate push that started the downward trajectory of the world.


Breaking Down Dystopia: The Hunger Games – part 2

Dear Jerry,
Last time I wrote to you, I wrote about The Hunger Games and how the Capital thinks, but this week I’m going to tell you a little about how it all breaks down. Now, the Capital might have it pretty good, but the districts in Panam do not have it that great. As you begin to go down through the districts the living conditions begin to get worse. By the time you make it to district 12 you will see that there is a lot of starvation, and they don’t have nice things like the Capital has. This is where Katniss Everdeen lives with her younger sister Primrose, and her mother. Their life might not be the greatest, but it is all they know.
When the 74th annual Hunger Games rolls around, Prim (Katniss’ sister) is now at an age where she will be put into the drawing, and is unfortunately picked out of the hundreds of kids, to go and compete to the death. When Prim’s name is called, Katniss steps out of the crowed and volunteers to go in her place. Now this is the beginning of a pattern beging broken, because she was the first person to volunteer from district 12.
When Katniss gets to the Hunger Games she manages to stay alive for a long time, and finally the Capital announces to the tributes, that if the other person form their district is still alive then they can work together and can both “win”. Katniss then goes to find Peeta, (the boy from her district, and her “love interest”) and they work together and are able to survive together until the end. As you can imagine Katniss and Peeta were so happy, but then the game maker comes over the speakers and says that the Capital changed their minds and they can’t both survive. Katniss then comes up with idea for them, she grabs some poisonous berries and basically says if we both can’t win, I don’t want to live without you. So they both grab the berries and throw them in their mouths and as soon as they do, the game maker yells over the speaker once again telling them to stop. That is where the pattern breaks down, Katniss found a way to beat the Capital, and survive the Hunger Games with another person.
Now the Capital was not very happy about this, but they needed their winner. Katniss got the ball rolling for another revolution. She showed everyone in Panam that she could defy the Captial and get away with it, for the time being. This gave the people hope, and a vision that they couldn’t shake, a vision that they could change their future for the better.


Breaking Down Dystopia: Enders Game – Part 2

Dear Jerry,

Today, I will be finishing up last weeks post about the “perfect” world of Enders Game. Ender Wiggin, the protagonist in Enders Game, starts the book as a five year old child living in a distant future version of America under a totalitarian regime. He was recruited to the Battle School and taken from his family for over ten years. You will remember how I mentioned the unbroken, and seemingly unbreakable patterns that were so integral in this world, yet, like all utopian worlds, this one also, eventually collapsed.
I think the world started falling apart when Ender realized that Battle School placed a VERY high priority on his well being., both mental and physical. Ender was smart enough to know that the authorities would have helped him even though they tried to make it clear that they would not. He knew that he was the worlds only hope of defeating the Buggers. Since he was such a perfect commander, the system and laws were being manipulated by politicians in order to get him in charge of the fleet.
Battle School followed a very set pattern. The kids were enlisted at five years old, trained for a couple years, then juggled through some “armies” to assist in their tactical planning and situational awareness. After being juggled back and forth to numerous different “armies”, they might become a toon leader or an officer. Ender spent about a year in two different “army’s” before he became a commander of his own “army”. Becoming a commander after so little time in Battle School was simply unheard of. This supposedly perfect world was not so perfect after all. The final happenstance that was a solid piece of evidence for the breakdown of the world was this, the administrators of battle school and the government were supposed to be very honest. In the end of the book, we find out that they deceived Ender in a very significant way. I will not say how, or in what way, because I would ruin the book for you. Next week I will bring the series, Breaking Down Dystopia, to a close with the final heading, “What Lesson Did the Author Want Us To Learn?”.



Breaking Down Dystopia: Divergent – Part 1

Dear Jerry,

This is the first blog of a 3 part series that I, along with my three other high school classmates, am doing on Dystopian worlds, their breakdowns, and the outcome of those breakdowns. I am excited about doing this series and I can’t wait to break down Dystopia with you.

In Veronica Roth’s book titled Divergent, she puts you into a seemingly perfect world with a flawless system of balance. In this world, they are dedicated to pursuing and cultivating your most prominent virtue. Therefore, pretty much squelching the other virtues.

This system is separated into five factions. They are: Amity, Erudite, Abnegation, Candor and Dauntless.

Amity: The Peaceful. They value peace and seek in everything they do.

Erudite: The Intelligent. They believe ignorance is just a lack of knowledge.

Abnegation: The Selfless. They value selflessness and the service of others.

Candor: The Honest. They are very truthful and frankly and tactlessly say what they feel.

Dauntless: The Brave. They strive to become fearless and indestructible.

These are the five factions that separate this balanced society. On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-old’s must select the faction in which they will live for the rest of their lives after taking a placement test. Before that, they live in the faction their parents chose at age sixteen. On this day, all the factions come together to watch the Choosing ceremony. The ceremony takes place only after each eligible child has taken Aptitude test, which tests them and tells them what Faction matches their proficiency. But ultimately, the child still makes the choice, though it is rare for them to go against their test results. They are called up one by one to make their selection. At the end of the day they then go to their new home which is whatever faction they chose, to stay there for the rest of their lives. Then it is all balanced again until the next choosing ceremony.

Beatrice Prior is Abnegation born and there is no doubt in anyones mind that she will pick Abnegation as her faction at her Choosing ceremony. That is, in everyones minds, except hers. All her life she has been instructed in the Abnegation ways of selflessness. But she isn’t sure it is the faction for her. And when her test comes back inclusive, she is even more terrified and confused. That is where I will pick next week. What is it that threw off this perfectly balanced world?


Breaking Down Dystopia: The Hunger Games – Part 1

Dear Jerry,

Throughout the next three weeks I am going to be on the topic of ‘The Hunger Games’. In our culture today, we have become fascinated with these dystopia books, and we (the OneRoom bloggers) want to break it down, and show what it is about these books that we love so much.

Every dystopia book starts with this idea of a utopia. Now, you may be asking, “what is a utopia? And what is a dystopia?” Well a utopia is when an author makes a perfect world, and a dystopia is when that “perfect world” breaks down and begins to fall apart, or break out of its pattern. That is where The Hunger Games starts, and that is what I am going to write about.

In The Hunger Games, the Capital has tried to make their world and culture perfect for them, by separating Panam into districts that work for them in very specific ways. They have every need of theirs met without them having to lift a finger for it. For example, district 12 contributes to this by working as coal miners, for the Capital. District 11 is agricultural, District 4 handles the fishing, and so on.

For the Capital, everything is good. They have everything they want, with nice clothes, an abundance of food, and nice houses. They even have, once a year, a reality show that they put on, called The Hunger Games.They put on these “games” that every year every district must offer up two young people, one male, and one female, to fight till the death in an arena that the Capital makes, while everyone watches on TV. They do this to try and scare the Districts, so they don’t start another uprising to destroy their “perfect” Capital. So for the Capital, their lives are pretty perfect, (or so they think) until one young lady, named Katniss Everdeen, comes along and begins to rock the boat.

That is where I will pick up next week, so stay tuned!



Breaking Down Dystopia: Ender’s Game – Part 1

Dear Jerry,

The next three Tuesdays, I (along with the rest of my One Room colleagues) will be writing about various dystopian worlds. Dystopia. That is a word you do not hear everyday. Dystopian worlds are worlds that are regulated tightly by the government in order to produce a “perfect” society that is as free from trouble and pain as possible. The problem with these worlds is that the sin contained in human nature always causes them to break down eventually. My world that I am studying, is the world of Ender’s Game. I have to say that Enders Game is one of my favorite dystopian books. I finished reading it in about five hours. This fine piece of fiction chronicles the life of a brilliant young boy, Ender Wiggin. Ender is a third child in a word where two children is the norm and third or fourth children are despised by others outside the family. He is mocked and ostracized by his schoolmates and they try to beat him up just after he leaves school. They picked this day to attack him because he had just had his Monitor removed. The Monitor is a device that hears and sees everything that it’s wearer hears, so these bullies would have been in trouble if they had bothered him before. Even though Ender is only six, he realizes that he has to end this fight and end all other future fights in one swift stroke, so, he beats his antagonist senseless. The authority’s notice his ruthlessness and decide to recruit him to the Battle School to be trained to be a fleet commander. (All of the kids in Battle School are between 6-12) Many other children that show similar potential are recruited to fight against the relentless and powerful alien enemy, the Buggers. The commanders and staff of Battle School see his potential as an excellent and potentially world-saving commander and start training him relentlessly. It is a very rough life. Ender’s life at Battle School is exhausting and violent. As the smartest kid there, he is the natural target for the older and stronger kids. Life follows a difficult, but set pattern that is fairly predictable until he realizes the value that the school, and really the whole world, places on his own well being. He begins to be hustled through training with unusual speed. I do not want to spoil anything, so I will be careful not to ruin the plot for those of you that have not read the book yet. Next week we will be writing in depth about the breakdown of our chosen dystopian worlds.

P.S. Ender’s Game has several scenes of fairly graphic violence. There are also several crude jokes made throughout the book. I would not recommend this book to anybody younger then fourteen. Anybody younger then that would have to have their parents approve it before they read it.