Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Doris from Dobbs Ferry. Doris Wonders, “What is dystopia?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Doris!

What do you imagine when you think about the future? Do you dream of flying cars? Maybe you picture a healthier planet. Or, perhaps, you imagine a future that’s much more bleak.

If so, you’re not alone. Many authors have written about futures that few people would like to live in. Instead of a bright vision of the future, these stories depict dystopias.

What is a dystopia? In short, it’s the opposite of a utopia. A dystopia is a society in which most people live unhappy—even miserable—lives. Authors often imagine these futures. However, they are sometimes inspired by reality.

Have you ever read a dystopian book? Many of them have a few things in common. For example, they often feature strict government control. People may have very little or no privacy. The government may set harsh laws and even censor the public.

Other dystopias have no government at all. They may include anarchy. In these societies, life is a struggle for survival. Characters fight against each other or against nature to make it through the day.

In many dystopian stories, humans are cut off from nature. Often, they have used all or most of the Earth’s resources. Some dystopian stories take place entirely in cities. Often, the characters cannot interact with the natural world at all.

Social systems also often break down in dystopian stories. In most cases, a strict government carries this out. Often, it enforces one religion for all people. It may also outlaw religion altogether. Dystopias also tend to attack the family structure. They do so by turning family members against each other.

Some dystopian stories include advanced technology. It may be used to control the public or to make life easier for a select few. Those in power may be the only ones with access to these devices.

Can you think of any examples of dystopian literature? A few well-known titles are “1984,” “The Hunger Games,” and “The Giver.” Are you familiar with “Divergent” or “The Scourge”? These also depict dystopian futures.

The dystopian genre is large and always growing. What would you include in a story about the future? Would you draw a picture of a better world? Or would you join the ranks of authors who depict dystopias?

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.10,CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.2

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