Friday, July 31, 2015

Agenda 21: A Formal Lesson (Part I)

Agenda 21, pp. 51-56

Chapter Seven is another work of lore, this one coming from Emmeline's father. Dad has a lot more to say than mom and goes into more detail, even though mom was supposed to be an ex-teacher. It gives the whole thing a mildly patriarchal bent that's rather amusing in a novel that's knocking off a famous piece of feminist literature.

This chapter can be a bit boring and windy, so to give it a some zip I've invited little Bobby and Sally from the School of Plot Device to test their skill at story analysis. Ready?

Here's the setup: Emmy and dad are sitting outside of the Living Space, having a chat:

The Gatekeeper started making his rounds. He walked slowly past each Living Space, carrying his clipboard. He walked past Father and me, glancing at us with curiosity, and making a notation on his clipboard. Father stood silently until the Gatekeeper was back at the gate.

"Guess he's not used to me being home so soon."

"Guess he's not used to me being outside."

We smiled at each other like we were sharing a secret.

Now, can anyone tell me what's wrong with this scene?...Yes, I see a hand up.

SALLY: The Authority government is meant to be oppressive and omniscient, and yet Emmy and daddy are acting strange in full view of a government agent.

ME: Very good. You get a sticker. Now, Emmeline's dad is going to give us a "big-picture overview" of what came before. Remember to take notes:

"People didn't trust the government, not the way things were going. The economy was bad. There were wars with other nations. Of course, peopel were worried. So they elected new officials. Officials who made big promises."

BILLY: Teacher! Since he's obviously talking about President Obama, why doesn't he say the name? Or Clinton, or some other name the audience would recognize?

ME: That's a very good question. Can you think of any reason why the authors wouldn't want to be too specific?

BILLY: Um...Because they don't want to date the novel and make it look foolish down the line?

ME: Yes, Billy, that is certainly a plausible explanation. Sticker for you. As a matter of fact, the authors avoid mentioning anything with any sort of specificity:

"What kind of laws? Laws about what?"

"Emmeline, I can't explain all of it, not in one day. There's just too much! Let me do the big picture, please."

SALLY: But teacher, what good is a cautionary tale where the scary thing is so vague? How would you learn to avoid it?

ME: You are wise beyond your years, children.

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