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“Pop Squad” And “Tens with a Flag”

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    My reaction after reading and carefully examining the facts, themes and ideas of the two stories, “pop squad” and “Ten with a flag” is primarily similar because of uncanny resemblance in the stories. In pop squad, my initial response is of sheer horror and awe. It made me think of the sequence of events that needs to take place in a society for a society to end up with that fate. The culling of children was extremely normalized throughout the story so while most people reacted adversely to the killing of children, I was not really shaken by it. I tried to empathize, If I were to put myself in that society and in that policeman’s shoes, I would think I am a police officer of the state and the laws of the state are enacted by representatives of the people, so killing children is what the people wants and I am here to carry out the laws of my people.

    We all live in a society and the only a society can perform is if it has rules and people follow them. Deviation from those rules can destabilize the society or the foundations of that society. There was a question in my mind about absolute morality, killing children should be wrong in all and any circumstances, however as a society if we feel the need to do so and put that into law, then it is “right.” It was also interesting to note the views towards children from both the police and his romantic interest. “The familiar stench of unwashed bodies, cooked food, and shit washes over me as I come through the door….. kids.” and “Don’t be gross” as the reply to “If we weren’t going to live forever, I would get you pregnant” are but two quotes which signify the general attitude and distaste towards children. As for “ten with a flag” it made me realize People hare inclined to ignore the suffering of others when their lifestyle is not in jeopardy. We give power to others, thinking they will take the righteous decisions on our behalf but once we give someone the authority to act we tend to forget them so long as we’re not personally discomforted.

    That sort of ties in with the situation of other dystopian worlds, no matter how twisted the rules/law may seem, the people who agree are safe and fed. It’s only when the state finds us anomalous or a detriment to society is when you fight back. Both the stories have striking similarities in terms of government interference and reproductive rights. “Pop Squad” written by Paolo Bacigalupi depicts a future utopian society of New York city where people live forever but having children is illegal. The world is still reeling from global warming calamities and problem of overpopulation and living forever forced this society to take on a brutal law of culling children. The story follows the life of a policeman who is part of the “pop squad” and his job primarily entails exterminating illegal children and arresting the “breeders.” The mothers of these dead children are often traumatized by the action and is arrested and sent down to camps where they work for the rest of their lives. The government has complete autonomy over reproductive rights and rules are enforced with extreme prejudice.

    Shooting Children and Enslavement for the mother is the consequence for breaking the law. Similarly, in “ten with a flag”, a story about a young mother-to-be caught in between the wishes of a meritocratic government which uses technology to determine the unborn child’s future contribution to society and her husband. It assigns numbers to the child with a maximum of 10 and 10 being a high impactful individual. The government believes the child is a prodigy destined to enrich society while her husband believes the child a danger to both he and his wife. In this society government has high level of interference where has all information about citizens and the number it assigns citizens dictates all aspects of their lives. In both cases the perpetrators are sent down to concentration camps where they are manually worked as punishment and consequence for breaking the rules. Recalling the doctor’s conversation “He will be reduced to a one or two, of course.

    Put to manual labor” (Ten with a flag:31). However, in both the stories the characters who allow the conditions of the society to exist survive and go on to live their lives as if nothing changed. In pop squad Alice says “ Alice makes a face of distaste. “Can you imagine trying to perform Telogo without rejoo? …..Fifteen years.”(pop squad:145)Which shows her acceptance and rejoice in the society before her. She is an accomplished individual with social acceptance and a very good job. Similarly in Ten with a flag the doctor asks “We understand this isn’t your choice, isn’t it?” the woman regarding her husband’s wish for abortion. She was later told she could go on being a 10, enjoy shorter hours and can choose a new partner for herself.

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