Walden Two | Study Guide

B. F. Skinner

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Walden Two | Chapter 17 | Summary

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Summary

As the group sits on leather cushions on the floor of an empty studio, Frazier delivers a lengthy explanation of the family unit in Walden Two and its comparison to family life outside the society. He talks about how many married couples have separate bedrooms. This arrangement came about after researchers established separate bedrooms fostered better relations between husband and wife. He goes on to say there is a lack of extramarital affairs and probably less promiscuity than in the outside world because they encourage simple friendships between the sexes. When a divorce is inevitable, there is more emphasis on fostering the new relationship than finding fault with one party or another. In addition, children are not as severely impacted by divorce since they are accustomed to mentorship from other adults than just their parents.

He claims the sexes are treated equally in Walden Two.

Analysis

Frazier states Walden Two has abolished the traditional form of the family for an "experimental" one. It is apparent the function and structure of the family are under as much scientific manipulation as any other aspect of life in the community. Skinner is promoting gender equality by allowing women and men similar freedoms, for instance, the absence of child-rearing. Also, women at this time in American history were still quite strong socially, except for the fact many servicemen were returning to jobs previously held by women. Women were now expected to be housewives and not workers. Therefore, Walden Two provides a counterpoint to the growing servitude of women in modern society.

Women in utopian societies did not necessarily do poorly. Women in the Oneida community experienced freedoms women outside the community could not expect. For instance, they were able to run businesses, express themselves sexually, and wear whatever clothing they desired.

Skinner is expanding the notion of family throughout the story while supporting the economic and health components that not only make an alternative lifestyle possible, but also desirable.

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