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"A Cage Of Butterflies" Brian Caswell Socio Cultural Assumptions And Values Presented In The Book

914 words - 4 pages

In the novel “A Cage of Butterflies”, author Brian Caswell raises a number of socio-cultural values and assumptions. He does this through his characters’ thoughts and dialogue as he guides the reader through the story of seven adolescents, two young adults and the ‘Babies’ that they all love. This group of people live or work at ‘the farm’ – a place for young people with high IQ’s. Greg, Mikki and the other children are having an O.K. life at the farm, where they can all fit in despite their differences. But what about the five younger ‘Babies’? With the help of Susan and Erik, two employees at the farm, the mystery soon unfolds to reveal a presentation of human cruelty.This essay will address three of the socio-cultural values and assumptions that Caswell raises in the novel. These will be:The assumption that sameness is encouraged and differences are discouraged in today’s society, whether they are disabilities or extraordinary abilities.The ethics of human experimentation,And the powerlessness of children.The first socio-cultural assumption to be addressed in this essay is that differences are discouraged in our society, and that sameness is encouraged. Caswell’s beliefs about this point show through in the novel when Greg and Mikki are discussing how difficult the super-intelligent Babies’ lives must have been.“…we only had to deal with people’s ordinary, everyday prejudices. ‘Don’t be too clever.’ … ‘Don’t walk around on crutches dragging your legs behind you and making me feel uncomfortable.’ ‘Be normal. Be the same as me.’” (pg 117) Caswell seems to believe that people in today’s society are not accustomed to differences and would prefer everyone to be the same in order for themselves to be ‘comfortable’.However, when Greg says this, he is not actually quoting people, more so their thoughts, which suggests that people did not exclude him outright. These thoughts may, however, have placed a ‘barrier’ between Greg and other people, which he has obviously noticed. It is probably because of this barrier that Greg expresses earlier in the novel,“I guess that’s why most of us don’t mind it here. It’s a place where we don’t have to pretend to be anything but what we are.” (pg 9)Another point raised by Caswell in the novel is the ethics of experimentation. Caswell’s feelings about the ethics of human experimentation are shown throughout the novel, some examples being seen as Susan is arguing with Larsen about the use of Pentothal on the Babies. Caswell seems to speak through Susan in this case, and if this is true, his feelings are clear. During the argument Susan exclaims“Hell, man, these are children, not lab animals…” (pg...

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