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.