Walden Two | Study Guide

B. F. Skinner

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Walden Two | Chapter 11 | Summary

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Summary

Castle and Burris talk with Frazier while awaiting the rest of the group outside the theater. Frazier defends the modest playbill as practical and fitting the needs for announcements of performances to the community. He also says performances are typically 50 minutes long, unlike in the city, where patrons feel they should receive more hours of entertainment for their money.

The three discuss the importance of artists being liberated from making a living. Frazier implies Walden Two's culture encourages the arts without the need of wealthy patrons. He says there may not be a "Golden Age" of the arts in the outside world because it is "out of reach of our economic and governmental techniques." In Walden Two, however, he says his composers may be at the dawn of a Golden Age. At the end of the chapter, Burris wants to study more about the "psychology of artistic creation." He then admonishes himself for being so bookish.

Analysis

Skinner, through Frazier, criticizes modern society here by making the comment the arts are as vital for a healthy community as any other skill or service. In an ideal society, the arts would not be relegated to just the wealthy or to those artists who can have wealthy patrons. This sets up a contrast between the outside world and Walden Two in relation to the arts. Frazier's mention of a Golden Age is evidence of his passion for the community and for what he is convinced it can achieve. He also states it is unattainable in present modern society because of its economic constraints. Meanwhile, Burris's character develops as he begins to question his own academic propensities. He is excited to learn more about the artistic sensibility and what drives one to create. When he realizes his first inclination is to research it in a library, he admonishes himself for being so "bookish" (85). He also admits Frazier would not go about such an excitement of an idea in that fashion.

Here we witness a clear moment in the rising action for our main character. He is literally undergoing a psychological change, an alteration in his perception. Burris is implying Frazier is on to something good. Burris's physical discomfort while listening to the Mass, is not from any displeasure with the music, but from physiological response to his new mental outlook.

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