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Walden Two Analysis

Decent Essays
B. F. Skinner’s Walden Two is a fictional account of a utopia set after World War II built on psychological techniques and behavioral engineering. Its creator, T. E. Frazier, is indicative of Skinner himself, who was a well-known behaviorist and psychologist in the mid-20th Century. “Give me the specifications, and I’ll give you the man!” he boasts in his novel. Although the words are really Frazier’s, they best summarize Skinner’s behaviorist model. Given enough knowledge about man’s behavior, one can manipulate him however he chooses through careful experimentation. The story is told from the perspective of a Professor Burris, who is surprised at his office one day by two alumni. While stationed in the Philippines for two years…show more content…
Everything, it seems, is pragmatically designed to perfectly suit its task. In the following days, they are shown the nursery, concert hall, gardens, cafeterias, dairies, and schools. They see the children raised in communal nurseries and schools. They live largely independently from their parents and learn equally independently. As Frazier puts it, “Our children aren’t neglected, but they’re seldom, if ever, taught anything.” That is, in school. Outside the nursery they are trained with exercises in patience and jealousy so as to combat these feelings. The “behavioral engineering” is simple and even tame by modern standards. Some kids are forced to wait five minutes before eating, given toys that take progressively more work to use, and told not to eat lollipops hung around their neck. Furthermore, all this training is completed by age six. Even so, the exercises seem cruel and unusual to one member of the tour in particular--Castle. He was skeptical about Walden Two from the beginning, always searching for gaps and questioning Frazier’s motives. Castle also grows frustrated when Steve and Mary announce their intentions to join the community and are accepted. Eventually, however, he lays it to rest for himself, declaring it “Fascism” before leaving for the university with the Professor. Burris feels off. Until then, he had brushed off the idea of joining Steve and Mary at Walden Two, but then at the train station, he makes up his mind. He packs a
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