$\blacktriangleright$ 3.1 Comment on the statement
In her dystopian novel "The Heart Goes Last", Margaret Atwood paints an unrealistic picture of the future: as her protagonist Charmaine states, there are jobs for all, no homelessness and the streets are safe. Compared to the current situation in America, the future seems pretty bright with a rather high unemployment rate, a big gap between rich and poor people, people who are homeless and with streets that are not at all safe in some American cities - Chicago for instance. The question that arises here is: shouldn't Atwood's novel then be a utopia when everyday life is ensured to be safe? Or are there any downsides to the idyllic picture of the future? Does the project of the town of Consilience really work?
Well, on the surface, people in Consilience live a good life: the three aspects I mentioned before seem to be better than what America faces nowadays. The project has also accommodated Charmaine and her husband when they didn't have anyplace else to go and when they didn't have any kind of positive perspective.
In Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", the jobs are distributed according to the caste one belongs to. So at least everybody - including those who are intellectually deprived - does have a job. In addition, the people live in a very safe environment since morals are taught via sleep-teaching methods in order to create and maintain a secure society.
The people in the novel "Divergent" by Veronica Roth are sorted into different groups according to their characteristics. Every group has a distinct purpose or job which serves the whole community and there are no apparent crimes since everybody knows their place in the society and the groups are living together in their own building or lot.
Since all of the before-mentioned novels feature societies where jobs are evenly distributed and where no obvious crimes are committed, it seems possible that the societies depict an attainable goal of providing jobs and a home for everybody and security.
However, one must dig deeper in order to see the real face of those societies. In Atwood's novel, individualism is completely lost. Apparently, this is the prize to pay for safe streets, jobs and a home - some rather pricey possessions. It also comes with the deprivation of dignity since you only get a job, if you are willing to be an inmate for a month for a crime that has not been committed. Furthermore, yes, the streets are safe, but to what extend? There are black vans everywhere that report any strange behaviour which is a deprivation of freedom. Of course, you get a home, but you have to exchange it every other month with a cell in the prison. Rules need to be followed at any cost and the reader doesn't really know what will happen if someone deviates from them but surely, there will be some kind of punishment. Any kind of socializing is impossible and everbody needs to be a conformist - a bright picture of the future, isn't it?
Huxley's world also consists of a sterile and controlled society. It's an allegedly safe environment - everything is in order - yet, this is only possible due to the conditioning of the inhabitants with a drug called soma and due to depriving some children with basic things such as books in order to create a caste-based society in which everyone has a place and a task. If one deviates from the norm, he or she will be put into exile - but the protagonist Helmholtz doesn't even see this as a punishment but as a liberation from the constraints of London-society. Linda sees it the same way since she did not try to get back to London but rather stayed with the "uncivilized" because she was free there. And although jobs and homes are provided, Bernard still thinks that the society and its norms are twisted.
In Roth's "Divergent", the members of the society at some point in time start to question the pre-given factions. Thus, Tris cannot believe that everyone does belong to only one faction but that in every person, there are bits of every faction and she hates that has to decide for and stick with one for her entire life. Otherwise, she will be made factionless and thus homeless. Sticking to the rules provides one with shelter and opportunities to socialize - not sticking to the rules can mean ostrcism or death.
In conclusion, alleged utopias as in "The Heart Goes Last" where there are plenty of jobs, no crimes and homes for everyone are literally not existing - there is always a prize to pay for a "nice" lifestyle. However, there is not enough information in the excerpt to properly judge whether having a job and a home is worth living in an experiment. But it would be worth it to read the novel and find out, don't you think?