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Vorschlag A

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Pretty

1.
Outline the different opinions expressed in the excerpt.
2.
Compare the concept and the values of the society in "Uglies" to dystopian visions found in material dealt with in class.
3.
[In 2011] "Sarah Burge (an associate of a cosmetic surgery company) made headlines when she gave her seven-year-old daughter £7,000 worth of vouchers towards cosmetic surgery when she's 16. […] Sarah Burge: To me it's no different from if I was a car manufacturer, reserving a car for my daughter when she is 18."
Comment on the possibilities of manipulating nature for personal gain, referring to the quotation and material on biotechnology dealt with in class.
#uglies#dystopia
Material 1
$\;$
Scott Westerfeld: Uglies (excerpt from the novel, 2005)
The novel is set in a futuristic world in which everyone is surgically altered at the age of sixteen to be pretty. Tally cannot wait until her birthday when she will be turned pretty and allowed to live in New Pretty Town with her best friend Peris. However, when Tally’s new friend Shay runs away, Tally is told by Special Circumstances[1] that she will remain ugly all her life unless she agrees to track down Shay and bring her back.
They were hidden in the changing rooms beside the sandy beach, where they’d left their interface rings[2] and a spare set of clothes. If anyone asked, they’d say they were swimming the whole time. Swimming was a great trick. It hid your body-heat signature, involved changing clothes, and was a perfect excuse for not wearing your interface ring. The river washed away all crimes.
5
A minute later they splashed out into the water […].
"I'm serious, Tally," Shay said once they were out in the water. "Your nose isn't ugly. I like your eyes, too."
"My eyes? Now you're totally crazy. They're way too close together."
"Who says?"
"Biology says."
10
Shay splashed a handful of water at her. "You don't believe all that crap, do you – that there's only one way to look, and everyone's programmed to agree on it?"
"It's not about believing, Shay. You just know it. You've seen pretties. They look… wonderful."
"They all look the same."
"I used to think that too. But when Peris and I would go into town, we'd see a lot of them, and we realized
15
that pretties do look different. They look like themselves. It's just a lot more subtle, because they're not all freaks."
"We're not freaks, Tally. We're normal. We may not be gorgeous, but at least we're not hyped-up Barbie dolls." […]
"Okay, Shay. […] You can't change it just by wishing, or by telling yourself that you're pretty. That's why
20
they invented the operation."
"But it's a trick, Tally. You've only seen pretty faces your whole life. Your parents, your teachers, everyone over sixteen. But you weren't born expecting that kind of beauty in everyone, all the time. You just got programmed into thinking anything else is ugly."
"It's not programming, it's just a natural reaction. And more important than that, it's fair. In the old days it
25
was all random – some people kind of pretty, most people ugly all their lives. Now everyone's ugly… until they're pretty. No losers."
Shay was silent for a while, then said, "There are losers, Tally."
Tally shivered. Everyone knew about uglies-for-life, the few people for whom the operation wouldn't work. You didn't see them around much. They were allowed in public, but most of them preferred to hide. Who
30
wouldn't? Uglies might look goofy, but at least they were young. Old uglies were really unbelievable.
"Is that it? Are you worried about the operation not working? That's silly, Shay. You're no freak. In two weeks you'll be as pretty as anyone else."
"I don't want to be pretty."
Tally sighed. This again.
35
"I'm sick of this city," Shay continued. "I'm sick of the rules and boundaries. The last thing I want is to become some empty-headed new pretty, having one big party all day."
"Come on, Shay. They do all the same stuff we do: bungee jump, fly, play with fireworks." […]
"Look, Skinny, I'm with you," Tally said sharply. "Doing tricks is great! Okay? Breaking the rules is fun! But eventually you've got to do something besides being a clever little ugly."
40
"Like being a vapid, boring pretty?"
"No, like being an adult. Did you ever think that when you're pretty you might not need to play tricks and mess things up? Maybe just being ugly is why uglies always fight and pick on one another, because they aren't happy with who they are. Well, I want to be happy, and looking like a real person is the first step."
"I'm not afraid of looking the way I do, Tally."
45
"Maybe not, but you are afraid of growing up!"
Shay didn't say anything. Tally floated in silence, looking up at the sky, barely able to see the clouds through her anger. She wanted to be pretty, wanted to see Peris again. […] She was sick of this whole ugly business, and just wanted it to end.
A minute later, she heard Shay swimming for shore.
Scott Westerfeld: Uglies, New York 2005, S. 78 – 81.

Annotations
[1] Special Circumstances: Secret Service-like organisation responsible for keeping pretties and uglies in the city
[2] interface ring: tracking device for interaction with other devices, also used for total surveillance
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Pretty

$\blacktriangleright$  1. Outline different opinions
Biology
  • there is only one way to look
  • everyone is programmed to agree on it
  • operations don't work on some people
Tally
  • used to think that pretties all look the same
  • now thinks that pretties do look different
  • considers themselves (uglies) as freaks and can't wait for her 16th birthday
  • believes that you can only be pretty by getting the operation, not by wishing or by telling yourself that you're pretty
  • according to her, it is a natural reaction to find non-operated people ugly
  • deems the operations as fair $\rightarrow$ back in the days, beauty was distributed randomly, now everyone is ugly until they are made pretty
  • pretties have the same lifestyle as uglies
  • equals being pretty with being an adult and taking over responsibility
  • only pretties look like real persons
Shay
  • thinks that uglies are normal and doesn't care whether they are gorgeous or not
  • pretties are hyped-up Barbie dolls to her
  • believes that people have been programmed into thinking that anything besides pretties is ugly
  • doesn't want to be pretty
  • being pretty comes with rules and boundaries which she rejects
  • pretties as empty-headed and boring, partying all day
  • is proud and not afraid of looking the way she does $\rightarrow$ opposes surgery
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Compare the concept and values of the society in "Uglies" to other dystopian visions
Concept of society in "Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld
  • world of "Uglies" is separated into the haves and have-nots: those who have had the surgery and those who have not (yet)
  • city apparently has different areas for the different classes of people like New Pretty Town
  • people change the natural world in order to suit them better
  • excluding society: people who never made the surgery hide from public (are allowed though)
    $\rightarrow$ being different means not belonging to the society
  • pretties party all day, do bungee jump, fly and play with fireworks
  • being pretty as the highest aim one can achieve
  • people can be manipulated into doing things by denying them the right to get the surgery if they don't follow the orders
Values in "Uglies"
  • uniformity is valued above anything else
  • individuality is designated but is supposed to be rooted out
  • beauty is supposed to shallow and only looks define what beauty really is
  • societal standards of beauty are predefined
Concept of society in "Divergent" by Veronica Roth
  • society is organized by faction
  • each faction is dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue
  • 5 factions: Amity, Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Candor
  • everything about this society comes down to what faction people belong to: their jobs (Erudite teach, while Amity counsel), where they live, who they marry, what they wear, what they do for fun (Dauntless go zip-lining, while Abnegation like to knit)
  • factions fulfill certain jobs that serve the greater good (Amity grow crops to distribute between factions, Erudite create serums that
  • 16-year-old teenagers have to take an aptitude test that determines to which faction they belong
  • teenagers can still pick where they want to belong in a choosing ceremony
  • have to pass a test once they are in the faction: if they don't then they will be factionless
  • factionless people live in their own society and seek to overthrow the existing society
Values in "Divergent"
  • people adhere to the values of the faction they have chosen
  • Amity value peace, Abnegation value selflessness, Erudite value intelligence, Dauntless value courage, Candor value honesty
  • society doesn't plan for people to value more than one thing
  • people who cannot be put in factions because they value everything are Divergent and need to be eliminated
  • each faction works to promote only its trait, ignoring all others which this leads to conflicts $\rightarrow$ Candor loathes Amity for how frequently they lie to keep the peace
Comparison
  • "Uglies"-society features only one value (beauty) vs. 5 values
  • beauty cannot be considered to be a value vs. real values in "Divergent"
  • biology chooses whether you are worthy of attaining value (in form of surgery) vs. aptitude test & choosing ceremony
  • both societies are divided in groups that live in a specific area
  • being ugly means not belonging to society vs. everybody constitutes the society (factionless form their own society)
  • teenagers of both societies need to be 16 to form part of the society
$\blacktriangleright$  3. Comment on possibilities of manipulating nature for personal gain
Possible information for Introduction:
  • meaning of manipulating nature (what does it entail?)
  • current headlines/warnings concerning consumption genetically manipulated rice or similar
  • medicine / surgeries also part of manipulating nature?
Main Part - Manipulating nature for personal gain
Pro arguments:
  • vaccinations / medicine: changes to the immune system are made to sustain health
    $\rightarrow$ if you take medicine because you are sick or if you get vaccinated to prevent getting sick, you actively interfere with nature because you prevent things that were bound to happen with something manmade
  • straightening of rivers: highly winding rivers are being straightened
    $\rightarrow$ water flows faster and rivers can be used for shipping
    $\rightarrow$ the disease malaria has been exterminated due to the straightening of rivers and the resulting drying of ground
  • in vitro fertilization : couples who cannot get pregnant on a natural way can have children
    $\rightarrow$ if you couldn't influence this component of life, many people would regard their life as useless and not fulfilling
    $\rightarrow$ however, genetically-modify human embryos should stay illegal
  • hunters : manipulate the ecosystem by hunting game
    $\rightarrow$ if the boreal ecosystem was left to itself, there would be overpopulation of certain game and this would thus create an imbalance in the ecosystem
Con arguments:
  • feeding antibiotics or growth-stimulators to livestock: overpopulation of the world leads to urgent need of food
    $\rightarrow$ people could just quit consuming products from that animal for a certain time until waves of sickness are over
    $\rightarrow$ harms the humans that consume products as well since antibiotics will enter his/her system as well
  • cosmetic surgeries: surgeries that are just being conducted because someone wants to be "prettier"
    $\rightarrow$ quote shows that it is almost sick to give a 7-year-old girl vouchers for cosmetic surgeries
    $\rightarrow$ it implies that it is natural to not be content with your own looks
    $\rightarrow$ if something about their looks bother someone so much that this has serious impacts on their self-esteem or confidence, it is okay to have a surgery in order to improve quality of living
  • genetic engineering techniques : methods used to genetically engineer plants are imprecise and ex­tremely dangerous
    $\rightarrow$ threat to food security
    $\rightarrow$ not safe for humans or the environment
Possible Conclusion:
  • it is always important to consider all sides of manipulating nature
  • can be beneficial as well as harmful
  • interfering with nature is okay as long as it doesn't do harm on a deeper level
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Vorschlag A

Pretty

$\blacktriangleright$  1. Outline different opinions
In Scott Westerfield's dystopian novel "Uglies" from 2005, people believe that there is only one way that everyone should look like. When children turn 16, they are surgically modified to fit the standards of beauty that society promotes. They turn from ugly into pretty.
The society in "Uglies" believes that everyone is programmed to agree on the standardized beauty looks which is why everyone under 16 yearns for that specific operation. However, those operations don't work on some people and this in turn causes a certain fear in the teenagers who are about to have their operation.
One of those teenagers is Tally who used to think that pretties all look the same. Yet, she now thinks that pretties do look different and considers herself ugly and a freak and can't even wait for her 16th birthday. Only by getting operated she will be pretty, she believes. Merely wishing or telling yourself that you're pretty just won't do the job for her. According to Tally, it is just a natural reaction to find non-operated people ugly. She also deems the operations as fair since back in the days, beauty was distributed randomly and now, everyone is ugly until they are made pretty. Although pretties have the same lifestyle as uglies, Tally equals being pretty with being an adult and taking over responsibility. For her, only pretties look like real persons.
Shay instead thinks that uglies are normal and she doesn't care whether they are gorgeous or not. To her, pretties are hyped-up Barbie dolls, empty-headed and boring, partying all day. Shay believes that people have been programmed into thinking that anything besides the pretties is ugly. This is why she doesn't want to be pretty at all. Also, being pretty comes with rules and boundaries which she actually rejects. She is actually proud and not afraid of looking the way she does and thus, opposes the surgery.
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Compare the concept and values of the society in "Uglies" to other dystopian visions
Vorschlag A Dystopian visions mainly have one thing in common: they feature a society that restricts its individuals without them even knowing about that. The concept and values of these societies are often twisted and do not match the wishful thinking with which people nowadays envision the future.
The world of Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies" is separated into the haves and have-nots: those who have had the surgery and those who have not (yet). The city in which they all live apparently has different areasfor the different classes of people like New Pretty Town for instance. It is a rather excluding society: people who never made the surgery hide from the public although they are allowed in it. Being different thus means that one is not belonging to the society. Being pretty is the hightest aim one can achieve - the pretties party all day, do bungee jump, fly and play with fireworks. Because this is the highest aim for almost anyone, the teenagers can be manipulated into doing things by denying them the right to get the surgery if they don't follow the orders. Uniformity in this society is valued above anything else. Individuality is designated but is supposed to be rooted out. Beauty is supposed to be shallow and only looks define what beauty really is in a society where societal standards of beauty are predefined.
The society in the dystopian novel "Divergent" by Veronica Roth is organized into five factions of which each is dedicated to the cultivation of one particular virtue. Everything about this society comes down to what faction the people belong to: their Jobs, where they live, who they marry, what they wear and what they do for fun. The factions fulfill certain jobs that serve the greater good. All 16-year-old teenagers have to take an aptitude test that determines to which faction they belong. Yet, teenagers can still pick where they want to belong in a choosing ceremony. Also, they have to pass a test once they are in their chosen faction - if they fail, they will be made factionless. People in those factions adhere to the specific values. Those values are: peace, selflessness, intelligence, courage, honesty. Each faction works to only promote its specific trait, ignoring all others, which oftentimes leads to conflicts. Additionally, the society doesn't plan for people to value more than one thing. Thus, people who value everything cannot be put in factions. They are Divergent and need to be eliminated.
When juxtaposing the societies of "Uglies" and "Divergent" it becomes evident that the people in "Uglies" are far more restricted in their mindset and in their choices. Moreover, they only feature one value, whereas the people in "Divergent" have five values. And it is not quite clear, whether beauty can be considered a value. In addition, biology chooses whether you are worthy of attaining value in form of surgery in "Uglies" - in "Divergent", the people choose their value themselves through the choosing ceremony. Being ugly also means that you don't belong to the society - in "Divergent" you can only become factionless, and even those people have a society which is made up by other factionless people. The only aspects the two novels have in common is the age when the teenagers finally belong to the society and that the societies are divided into groups living within a specific area.
$\blacktriangleright$  3. Comment on possibilities of manipulating nature for personal gain
Vorschlag A Current headlines and warnings in social media and news in general involve the consequences of the consumption of genetically manipulated rice or similar. Organic stores pop up like mushrooms everywhere and everyone being able to pay a little more for groceries tends to buy organically grown food. Clearly, genetically manipulated food is an interference with nature. But isn't the overall concept of medicine or of surgeries also a part of manipulating the nature?
First of all, manipulating the nature is not always as evil as it is sometimes presented. Looking into the field of medicine, it is clear that changes to the immune system are made to sustain health. If you take medicine because you are sick or if you get vaccinated to prevent getting sick, you actively interfere with nature because you prevent things that were bound to happen with something manmade. If it weren't for medicine or the pharma industry, a lot of people would suffer from diseases. Sometimes, people are not responsible for a condition they ight find themselves in. Couples who cannot get pregnant on a natural way for instance may still have children thanks to in vitro fertilization and the medicine in general! If you couldn't influence this component of life, many people would regard their life as useless and not fulfilling. However, genetically modifying human embryos should remain illegal. In addition, the nature and its environment needs to be adjusted at times as well. Highly winding rivers for instance have to be straightened. Due to that process, the water can flow faster and rivers can be used for shipping. Moreover, the disease malaria has been exterminated due to the straightening of rivers and the resulting drying of ground. Hunters also manipulate the ecosystem by hunting game for instance. If the boreal ecosystem was left to itself, there would be overpopulation of certain game and this would thus create an imbalance in the ecosystem.
Yet, there are situations were interfering with nature is just not acceptable. Feeding antibiotics or growth-stimulators to livestock for instance should be forbidden. Farmers explain that the overpopulation of the world leads to an urgent need of food. but people could just quit consuming products from those specific animals for a certain time until the waves of sickness are over. Consuming modified food also harms the humans since the antibiotics will enter their system as well. Genetic engineering techniques are highly questionable also. The methods used to genetically engineer plants are imprecise and extremely dangerous which poses a threat to food security and which is hence not safe for neither the humans nor the environment. Cosmetic surgeries are in this regard not any better than genetically modifying food. Surgeries are just being conducted because someone wants to be prettier. The quote of the mother who will give her daughter vouchers for a surgery for her birthday demonstrates that it is sick to give a 7-year-old girl the feeling that she will never be pretty and that she will definitely need the surgery when she is old enough. It implies that it is natural to not be content with your own looks. Of course, this can't be generalized. If something about one's looks bothers someone so much that this has serious impacts on their self-esteem or their confidence, it is okay to have a surgery in order to improve the quality of living.
It is always important to consider all sides of manipulating the nature - it can be beneficial as well as harmful as the before mentioned arguments show. Yet, I think that interfering with nature is okay as long as it doesn't do harm on a deeper level.
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