Utopian Visions in Love in the Ruins

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Walker Percy's Love in the Ruins presents a society that is a direct satire of our 21st century American society. Percy takes what he considers the negative elements and situations from our society, and reproduces them, distorting them in order to point out the negativity of them. It seems, then, that the society presented in the novel would be distinctly distopian. However, the view that Percy gives us includes many different segments and views of the society, some of which are very utopian. Some of these mini-utopias are actually in the society, but many more are only dreams of the characters. This is an accurate reflection of our society, there are many situations that are utopian for certain people, and every one of us creates utopia in our minds from time to time. Paradise Estates, where Thomas More lives, is aptly named. Paradise is a place where everyone gets along well, the liberals and conservatives, the unbelievers and Christians, the Northerners and Southerners. The distribution is not even, there are minorities, but the majority groups are open to the customs of the minorities. Paradise Estates is community at its best. It is not an intentional community, but rather everyone is free to do what they want and there is love and respect and little argument. Intentional community does have its place, however. The Honey Island Swamp is home to a variety of people, including guerrillas, college dropouts, draft dodgers, radicals, and beats. Some of these people, such as Chuck, came from the town, and have given up city, home, family, career, and religion to live in an intentional community. Chuck's community is different from the community of Paradise estates in that there is common ground that holds the community in place, rather than respect for differences. Chuck's community holds ideals of free love, freedom, peace, and God expressed everywhere. This community is very similar to many of the contemporary utopias that can be found in America today. Normally hospitals are not utopian, but this was not the case for More. More considered his time in the hospital to be "the best months of my life" (p. 90). In his fellow patients, More found love that he was not finding in his life outside of the hospital. Also, while in the hospital, he had the time and resources to do the breakthrough work for his lapsometer, which was his passion at the time.
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