Surviving Auschwitz

There is this woman in my life, my Uncle’s mother, who I have known since I was quite young. As a child, there were three things I knew about Huggy (as we kids called her) she is tiny (about 4’6″), she is French, and she always wears long sleeves.

Growing up Jewish, the holocaust was a key part of my religious education. French Jews were imprisoned? Huggy is a French Jew. It took place in the 1940s? Huggy was growing up then. Piecing realizations together until figuring out Huguette was a Holocaust survivor.

Huggy entered Auschwitz with her family when she was about 12, and due to treatment/malnutrition in the camp did not grow. She is tattooed with her ID number on her for arm. She and her brother were the only surviving members of the family. She is an Auschwitz survivor.

Reading Levi’s book, you can understand the  gravity, and hopelessness of the situation he is in. However, he preaches that hope, compassion, and looking out for each other were the key to survival. I don’t think that Huguette would agree with any of these tactics and plans, to her there were those who were lucky enough to survive, and those who weren’t.


Weeding Rituals in ancient Russia

It is relatively easy to learn about how a long dead king ruled, or a battle was fought. A simple excavation of a battlefield, or the perusal of any angry politicians’ letters will tell us what we need to know. From The Domostroi we can learn a lot. For example The Domostroi can show us both the size and the structure of ancient households. We discovered that many powerful Russians lived in huge homes that could hold two hundred people. And that the people inside (especially the rich) lived very segregated lives. It appears that the women in Russian household were required to live almost entirely in groups of other women. It is fair to assume that after a certain age a women’s life would be completely influenced and directed by other women, specifically the match maker. In the last chapter of The Domostroi, marriage is discusses, that chapter brings this idea of grandeur and segregation to the extreme. The wedding ritual for noble families is three days long. The fact that the rituall is so large and complex would suggest that the Russian culture has been cultivating it for centuries unhindered by foreign interference. It is only through years of development that a society can incorporate enough material from other cultures to get that extensive.

PS. (this reminds me of the weeding ceremonies in Game of Thrones, the beeding ceremonies are the same)

Manipulation of youth in Utopias/Dystopias

Sam Wittmer


What are some characteristics of the manipulation of youth (base) for the good of society and how does conditioning affect family structure and values in a utopian or dystopian society?


The paper will generally focus on how the manipulation of children in a utopia or dystopia changes family structure and values.  I will mainly write about this topic as seen in film and literature. The paper will be limited to perhaps a few references to historical texts and real world applications, and the focus will be mostly limited to fiction.  I will use evidence from literature and film and compare the different modes of the society’s manipulation as well as the effects of these actions.

In this paper, I will attempt to address the following issues and questions:

From where does the need arise for a society to manipulate children? So often it seems, very cruelly, that a fictional government chooses the youth as its means of creating the society that is desirable.  Why start so young?  Is it because children are impressionable?  Is it because they are the future and will in turn perpetuate the legacy of the society’s goals and aspirations?

Even if the ends are truly just in nature, is it right to manipulate a child’s mind to desired standards of behavior.  Cotillion?  Is there still meaning behind the actions of the child if it is not truly because of the child’s goodness, but is in fact, their conditioning that leads to their choices?

What are the various techniques that different societies use in order to manipulate children?  Do they use fear or happiness to make them do what they want?

Is it the government specifically, or the society in general that conditions the children into behaving the way they do?

How do family values and the family dynamic change when manipulation is present? (GATTACA—One brother is valued more than the other.  Hunger Games—family’s pulled apart.  1984—Kids turn in their parents when they are going against the party and committing thoughtcrime.)

Children are definitely influenced by their parents and the society that we live in.  When does the teaching of children become manipulation?  Does our society manipulate children now?  (Institutions such as Cotillion, kids often having parents’ political values, law that kids must go to school.) Is this ok/just/good?

When do societies come to the conclusion that they must actively manipulate the children?  Is this and active choice by society?

What is the right setting to manipulate a human being?  What types of societies have conditioning?

Any dystopian novel will demonstrate in its contents the role of youth.  All the works of fiction that I am focusing on show the role of children in society.  Some of the secondary sources I am considering are about the Hitler Youth and Red Guards —but most likely the paper will focus on primary sources and secondary sources that analyze the texts. I believe that the paper will support the ideas of how children are manipulated by their societies.  The paper’s originality is the focus on fictional utopias and dystopias.  This paper will extend the understanding of conditioning effects on children because I will be using a wide range of primary sources, thus perhaps bringing a comprehension to the reasons, settings, outcomes, etc., for said conditioning of children.


There are many sources available for this topic, and a wide variety of sources.  There is plenty of fiction—primary sources of movies and literature—as well as non-fiction.  For non-fiction I will look into the Hitler Youth movement or the Red Guards in Mao’s China.  I will sparingly reference secondary sources concerning these topics.  Another non-fiction source could be any parenting magazine articles on how to raise your kid to be respectful: this in order to display the current life of the topic.  Is that manipulation of children?  However, I will focus on primary sources of dystopian literature.  Even if the focus is not on children, these sources always make reference to the role of children.  I will compare the different answers to the questions posed from each piece of literature and compare them.  In the comparison I will look for patterns in the manipulation of the youth.  I would look at the roots of each characteristic of the society in question to make these connections.  I will also reference some of the many criticisms of the primary sources that appear in the bibliography.



1a. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in The       Communist Manifesto and other Revolutionary Writings, ed. Bob Blaisdell (Mineola:      Dover  Publications, 2003), 123-150.

Focusing on Marx’s points on: a) the current status of the family—his observations on the proletariat family and its degeneration into simply another asset to the bourgeoisie and b) his proposals for change.  He proposes abolition of inheritance, and a different style of family relationship.  There will be new “family values.” (A community of women??) (inheritance, family values, community of women)


1b. Davis, Todd F. and Kenneth Womack. “’O my brothers’: Reading the Anti-Ethics of the          Pseudo-Family in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.” College Literature 29           (2002): 19.


2b. Kirby, David A. “The New Eugenics in Cinema: Genetic Determinism and Gene Therapy in   “GATTACA”” Science-fiction studies 27 (2000): 193.

1c. More, Thomas. Utopia. Toronto: Dover, 1997.


2c. Plato, The Republic. Toronto: Dover, 2000.


1d. Niccol, Andrew. GATTACA. DVD. Directed by Andrew Niccol. Culver City, CA: Columbia Pictures, 1997.

The film displays a society in which everyone’s destiny is determined by genetic modification before they are born  Society manipulates the youth before a child is even born.  Genetics bring an entirely new way for possible discrimination.  In the movie, a family has one son whose DNA is manipulated in order to make him predisposed to success, and the first who is a “God child”—one who is treated as less because he has inferior genes.


1e. Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. London: Heinemann, 1962.

Society corrupts a child at first and then tries to recondition him.  There are two examples of conditioning in this novel.  In the beginning, the protagonist is a general hooligan who rapes and robs as he pleases—a side effect of the dystopian society’s unintentional conditioning.  Later, when he is arrested, the state attempts a reconditioning process.  He becomes “good” simply because he will feel violently ill when evil thoughts come to mind.  Is it still just to be good if the goodness is not inherent.  Can you treat humans like clockwork?


2e. Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008.


3e. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. London: Chatto and Windus, 1932.

(genetic mod., conditioning with repetitions)


4e. Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Secker and Warburg, 1949.


5e. Twain, Mark. Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins. New York: Norton, 2005. (inheritance)