Stranger In A Strange Land Essay

1356 words - 5 pages

Stranger in a Strange Land is a book written by Robert A. Heinlein that completely throws away the social mores of the late fifties/ early sixties society. The book opens with a ship returning from a trip to Mars with an interesting passenger, a man, Michael Valentine Smith who was the son of a previous voyage to Mars that was believed to be entirely dead. This was a human raised by Martians, who are an ancient race that has various powers that are discovered later in the book to be possessed by Smith through his knowledge of their language. When Smith gets to earth the U.S. government, under the pretense that he is not well sequesters him away in a hospital. Smith is spirited away by a nurse and her reporter friend. Smith is taken to Jubal Harshaw who is a rich relatively famous man, who has what boils down to diplomatic immunity because of his connections and previous actions, Smith lives with Harshaw for a time while he develops his body to Earth’s gravity and tries to adapt to its social structure. Eventually he leaves and travels to try to understand people eventually he does and he quickly becomes a super confident person. Smith decides that the world would be better if people understood each other. Smith creates a language center that is also a church and a commune and slowly he gains people who can speak the Martian language and can do many of the special things Smith can do but a large church dislikes his methods and politically attack him. Eventually he causes, indirectly, a mob to form around a hotel he owns and as he goes out to meet them he is preaching, the mob shoots him repeatedly and he dies leaving an effective commune that eventually teaches the rest of the world how to live. Stranger in a Strange Land falls in perfect step with the Free Love movement influencing it in a few ways; in the book Michael Valentine Smith creates a small commune in which sex is common, shared, and without jealousy, sex for Smith starts at a socially “young” age although he is a man, after the forced sameness of the fifties many younger people were looking to be unique and sexual freedom became a way to express that desire for uniqueness.
In the book Heinlein followed and influenced some of the 1960’s counterculture. The Hippie movement started in the early sixties and continued in force until roughly 1970 (Hippies and 1960’s counterculture). Hippies rebelled against their parents’ conformity and many ran away from home to experiment with their lives and what they could do. Heinlein wrote Stranger in 1962, although in letters to his editor he had been thinking about writing the book since the late forties (Grumbles from the Grave), the book was a huge success largely thanks to the 1960’s counterculture as the book portrays many of their ideals. Stranger in a Strange Land falls in perfect step with the Free Love movement influencing it in a few ways; in the book Michael Valentine Smith creates a small commune in which sex is common, shared, and...

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