Controlling Ideas and Prevailing Argument

Prevailing Argument: The world we live in today is far from perfect. This fact often leads people to envision living in a perfect society where everyone is equal and the perils and stress of war and conflict no longer exist. While this is a dream many would like to see come to life, the truth of the matter is that it is not achievable. As A.E. Samaan once said, “All utopias are dystopias. The term “dystopia” was coined by fools that believed a “utopia” can be functional.”

In each of their respective stories, both Butler and Vonnegut discuss this theme of utopias and deconstruct what is entailed in a utopia. In essence, both short stories leave readers with the argument that utopias are impossible and do not lead to a perfect society. The term utopia denotes an illusion of perfectionism that is unachievable despite many trying to achieve it. 

  • In “The Book of Martha”, Martha is tasked by God to attempt to create a perfect world. Martha is resentful of the fact that God has designed a world with many faults but she tries to encapture this idea of a perfect society by what she believes will help humans become less destructive. 


  • “The book of Martha” also challenges Christian ideologies and norms as God, viewed as an almightly and flawless being, should be able to create a perfect utopia but his inability to reveal this theme (once again )that utopias ultimately lead to dystopian societies. 


  • In “Harrison Bergeron”, Vonnegut presents a utopian society followed out by equality being valued over individuality. The historical context of “Harrison Bergeron” is the cold war given that in 1961, when it was published, the U.S. and Russia were at war with one another over the spread of communism. Vonnegut is able to touch on the historical situation by bringing up this idea of everyone being “equal” as an attempt to take communism very literally.


4 thoughts on “Controlling Ideas and Prevailing Argument

  1. You have a very good argument. Each of your examples can be useful pieces of evidence. Now to support your argument, take your evidence and separate them into paragraphs with reasons for your theme and and use the evidence to support your reasoning. Keep up the good work.

  2. Camille,

    I am super excited to read your rhetorical analysis. The artifacts you chose are super unique and sound like they have a lot of overlap in terms of the themes they deal with, so it should be very interesting to read how you tie it all together. I really like how you mapped this all out in that first paragraph you wrote. Presenting your two artifacts with this initial idea that people are constantly striving to build a perfect society due to how imperfect ours is, is really thought-provoking and draws me in wanting to hear more! great job!

  3. Hey Camille,

    To start off I love how you organized your thoughts on this and made it clear what artifacts you’ll be using to defend your argument on your paper. I also think you have a really interesting topic over here! I I think you’re arguing over here is to inform others that a perfect society is not attainable and that it’s a false hope and I think the evidence/artifact you have selected is a great piece to argue that claim with. Good luck!

  4. I think your argument is really interesting. It’s a cool argument that utopias don’t exist, and they are actually illusions. I think a reader of your essay will find comfort in knowing that a perfect society doesn’t exist.

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