A dystopian novel functions as a median to contrast between reality and the dystopian world created. Both, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley serve to provide sharp contrast to modern society by offering grim, oppressive, post-apocalyptic societies with the hope of avoiding such futures. Through the creation of an imagined futuristic world, the author makes use of various dystopian elements to differentiate with a utopian world. These hypothetical dystopian societies explore social and political structures within the created environment that differ from utopian societies, with the purpose to convey the author’s meaning.
With similar goals in mind, the authors compose contrasting fictional worlds that often remain relevant in today’s time. The authors of Brave New World and Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, create their differentiating organic worlds through the use of dystopian elements that include the structure of society, technology, and character with the purpose to convey and contrast the meaning of the book with current society.
A key component of any society is the social and political structures that compose it. Without the implementation of these structures, the society would fail to function as a collective. Dystopian novels often emphasize an ideal world that promotes group dependency and behaviour at the loss of individualism. This is seen to be the case in both Brave New World and Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. In Brave New World this ideology is immediately reinforced under the lines of, “Community, identity, stability,” (Huxley, 1).
This motto serves as the core beliefs of the World State and through conditioning are ‘absolutely’ upheld by its citizens. It is thought by the world controllers that by establishing an absolute collective that they control, the citizens would be happier in contrast to a republican or democrat that provides free will. In contrast, the idea of group mentality isn’t expressed until the middle of Where Late Sweet Birds Sang. To begin with, the group behaviour stems from necessity not the ideals of certain individuals. The clones that come to the forefront of the small society are relatively perfect aside from genetic mutations that result in new generations of clones being physically and mentally weaker than their predecessors. Due to this the clones become dependent on one another, losing their individuality, and in turn establishing the group mentality. Mark identifies this after reading from a book and says, “There is no individual, there is only the community,’ he said clearly.’What is right for the community is right even unto death for the individual. There is no one, there is only the whole.”(Wilhem, 187). An interesting aspect of this line, is the fact that it could be applied to Brave New World as well.
The idea of community is a prominent figure in both books, however, in Brave New World the ideals represent a communist ideology, while in Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang the ideals represent collectivism. This contrast is showcased through the artificially induced classism present in the World State. The citizens of the World State go through conditioning that introduces classism to them. This is showcased by the Director during his tour of the hatcheries where he turns on a switch in a facility nursing sleeping kids and it recites, “Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to
be able.” (Huxley, INSERT) This showcases the technique of hypnopedia being administered to the sleeping children to create the idea of class. From there, they make all the classes feel happy with their current reality by degrading classes lower on the class scale. For classes that are the objects of discrimination, the World State conditions them to not know that they are being treated unjustly, eliminating possible mutiny. Also, depending on the class certain benefits and freedoms exist, where the higher up on the class spectrum one is, the greater the compensation. This represents a perfected form of communist ideology that contrasts with the collectivism of the clones. No discrimination exists in the clone society, yet the productivity of the clones is similar to those in Brave New World. Hence, the societies may follow different social and political structures, but both represent efficiency and productivity. This contrasts with the communist views that the imposed structure enhances productivity the most in Brave New World, and adds to the mere illusion of a perfect state present in that society.
Another contrast in terms of structure occurs through the introduction of familial relations in Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, and the absence of them in Brave New World. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang has group relations where everyone is considered either a brother or sister. This is due to the cloning technique making use of similar genetic strands. However, the lines between brother and sister are blurred in this society as they often take delight in sexual activity to feel whole. This is seen when mark, someone that believes in monogamy, comes upon Rose taking part in such activity and says,
“No!’ he cried. ‘No!’ There was a tangle of naked bodies, doing all the things to one another she had told him about. At his scream of anguish she raised her head, they all did, but he knew it was Rose his eyes had picked out of all the rest. She was on her knees, one of the brothers behind her; she had been nuzzling one of her sisters. He could see their mouths moving, knew they were talking, yelling. He turned and ran.” (Wilhelm, 226)
The ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ engage in polygamous relations that are also present in Brave New World. Promiscuity is encouraged in the World State merely for the act of pleasure and to devoid the citizens of the concept of love. Sex and love are considered to go hand in hand, and to condition the citizens to think different, polygamous relationships are reinforced. The citizens are conditioned to the points where
In Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang, sex is encouraged for the act of pleasure and the concept of feeling whole. The clones weak mental state is relieved from sexual activity with brothers and sisters as it creates a form of unity, similar to the group mentality and structure present in the society.