Stranger In A Strange Land Essay

1934 words - 8 pages

Stranger in a Strange Land

 

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein takes the themes portrayed in the book and directly criticizes the Western Culture. As Heinlein said, "My purpose in this book was to examine every major axiom of western culture, to question each axiom, throw doubt on it" (Jelliffe 161). These axioms are where feels the Western Culture fails and so he uses the themes to criticize humans of the Western Culture by pointing out these faults. The themes of the story portray this by having Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised by Martians, come to earth to teach his knowledge which contradict what the Western Culture feels to be true. "Stranger is a strong-minded work of culture criticism, no doubt about it (Stover 58)." The themes that Heinlein uses are those of religion, sex, and love to make his point of where the Western Culture fails as a whole. Heinlein's writing of his novels after 1961 when he wrote Stranger in a Strange Land, has changed the genre of science-fiction, because he not only wrote about strange worlds and crazy adventures, but Heinlein also tried to include criticism and a message to the reader in his novels to explain problems that he felt humans have. This became Heinlein's writing style after 1957 when he reached the age of 50 and was on the top of science-fiction. Because science-fiction was considered to be for kids, Heinlein began to write more for adult audiences by adding the real problems and criticism into his novel (Drucolli 210). "The publication of Stranger in a Strange Land marked drastic shift in Heinlein's writing, at least in social criticism and controversial subject matter" (Drucolli 227). "As he had done immediately before World War II, Heinlein helped to reshape (with Stranger) the genre and make it more significant and valuable then it had been" (Drucolli 211). This has been a large step for science-fiction, having substance rather than just entertainment value. Having been one of the most famous science fiction books for this reason, "Billy Joel saw fit to mention the title in his 1989 Top-40 hit about history, 'We Didn't Start the Fire'" (Ager). In Stranger, Heinlein's point that he tries to make is that of the Western Culture and where it fails. "One says that Heinlein examined many of the common assumptions by which Americans lived and then wrote a novel presenting the other side of each" (Drucolli 226).

 

"No communicant to a currently established religion is likely to think it anything but blasphemous, but its dominant subject is religion" (Atheling 227). Religion is in no doubt one of the most important themes in the story. Heinlein uses it to throw doubt on what the Western Culture depicts as religion. Smith does not understand religion because of the many contradictions each religion has on another. He does not understand how groups of people can believe one religion to be true and how a group can believe a totally different religion true at the same...

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