Walden Two | Study Guide

B. F. Skinner

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Walden Two | Chapter 3 | Summary



This chapter centers on Frazier taking Professor Burris and his group on a tour of Walden Two. As they peruse the buildings and grounds, Frazier proudly describes the virtues of the self-sufficient community, such as creating and renovating buildings, farming, and manufacturing their own household items.


Skinner uses this chapter to praise the advantages of a self-sufficient community, which implies modern society does not possess this desire or ability. Frazier's criticism of lawn mowers as stupid machines is based on his knowledge and practice of using every inch of lawn for sustainable, productive purposes. This chapter is filled with evidence of the success of the community, and Frazier seems frustrated when a member of the visiting group is critical of him or is more adept at communicating than he is. For instance, when Barbara qualifies Frazier's statement about being outdoors in inclement weather, Frazier emphasizes in an abrupt manner he is referring to "the inconvenient or plain nasty kind" of weather. Also, when Castle mentions the underground cities proposed by H.G. Wells in response to Frazier's comment about streets in the future being covered, Frazier is indignant he had not recalled it himself. These two examples keep the rising action from feeling pedantic while creating conflict between the group and Frazier. They also provide context for future conflicts or resolutions.

Frazier also introduces the architectural element called "The Ladder." This is a decorated stairway that leads from the children's rooms up to the main activity rooms. Frazier shares it used to be called "Jacob's Ladder" from the biblical stairway to heaven. It is interesting the name changed, suggesting a move in the community away from any organized religion and its references. This is one of the recurring symbols in the story as it continues to emphasize the journey upward, a transcendent movement.

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