Someone Might Be Watching CommonLit Answers

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  • 9th Grade
  • Lexile: 1170

Source: Someone Might Be Watching — An Introduction to Dystopian Fiction
by Shelby Ostergaard
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Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
PART A: Which of the following identifies the author’s main claim in the text?Dystopian fiction exaggerates existing problems in our reality to show readers what could happen if society continues down a certain path.
PART B: Which detail from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“Dystopian authors argued that the pursuit of perfection will inevitably lead not to ‘no place’ but to a ‘bad place’, because of flaws within the system.” (Paragraph 6)
How does the author’s discussion of George Orwell’s 1984 contribute to the text (Paragraph 8)?It gives examples of how dystopian fiction is based on what the author observed in reality.

How does the description of the 1900s in paragraphs 5-6 help us understand the qualities of dystopian literature?

The description of the 1900s in paragraphs 5-6 helps us understand the qualities of dystopian literature in several key ways:

  1. Contrast with Utopian Visions: The text describes how the early 1900s were marked by a sense of optimism and a belief in the possibility of achieving a perfect society, driven by technological advances and socio-political theories.
    This contrasts with the emergence of dystopian literature, which often serves as a critique or a counterpoint to such utopian ideals. By highlighting the failures to achieve these utopian dreams, dystopian literature emphasizes the potential pitfalls and dangers of striving for perfection.
  2. Response to Societal Disillusionment: The mention of events in the 1900s that led to war, poverty, famine, and chaos, despite technological and political advancements, shows how dystopian literature often emerges as a response to disillusionment with the actual direction of society. It reflects the growing skepticism and concern about where these supposed advancements are taking humanity.
  3. Themes of Imperfection and Flawed Systems: By discussing the unfulfilled promise of a perfect society, the text underscores a central theme in dystopian literature: the inherent flaws in any system that seeks perfection. Dystopian works often explore the idea that pursuing an idealized society can lead to dehumanization, loss of freedoms, and other unintended negative consequences.
  4. Critical Examination of the Present: The evolution of society in the 1900s, as described, provides context for why dystopian authors focus on magnifying current societal issues. It helps us understand that dystopian literature often critically examines contemporary political, social, and technological trends, projecting them into a future where their negative aspects are amplified.

The description of the 1900s frames the historical and societal context in which dystopian literature developed. It highlights how dystopian narratives often arise from a combination of technological optimism, societal fear, and the disillusionment that follows when utopian dreams confront harsh realities.

This contrast between the dream of a perfect society and the dystopian portrayal of its pursuit helps define the essence of dystopian literature.


How does the author use the analogy of “funhouse mirrors” to help readers understand dystopian fiction?

The author uses the analogy of “funhouse mirrors” to help readers understand dystopian fiction in a few key ways:

  1. Distortion of Reality: Just like funhouse mirrors distort our physical appearance, dystopian fiction distorts aspects of our society. The analogy illustrates how dystopian stories take recognizable elements of our world but stretch, exaggerate, or warp them to create a new, often disturbing, reality. This distortion is not random but is a deliberate artistic choice to highlight certain societal issues.
  2. Exaggeration to Draw Attention: Funhouse mirrors make certain features comically large or small, drawing our attention to them. Similarly, dystopian fiction exaggerates specific societal problems or trends to make them more noticeable and to provoke thought and discussion. For example, a slight trend towards surveillance in society might be magnified in a dystopian world where surveillance is omnipresent and oppressive.
  3. Reflection of Ourselves and Society: The analogy suggests that, much like how we recognize ourselves despite the distortions in a funhouse mirror, the settings and scenarios in dystopian fiction, although exaggerated, still reflect our own society. They force us to confront and recognize the parts of our reality that we might otherwise overlook or underestimate.
  4. Critical Perspective: Just as funhouse mirrors prompt us to view ourselves from a different, often humorous or critical perspective, dystopian fiction encourages readers to rethink and critically assess the direction in which our society is heading. It challenges us to see beyond the surface and consider the deeper implications of our actions, policies, and societal norms.
  5. Engagement and Self-Reflection: Funhouse mirrors engage people by presenting a familiar yet altered image, often leading to self-reflection. Similarly, by presenting a distorted but recognizable world, dystopian fiction engages readers, prompting them to reflect on their values, choices, and the potential future of their society.

The “funhouse mirrors” analogy is an effective tool the author uses to convey how dystopian fiction works – by distorting and exaggerating aspects of reality to create a compelling, reflective, and often critical portrayal of society.

Discussion Answers

Have you ever read a dystopian novel, or seen a dystopian film? What about the book or film made it a form of dystopian fiction? How did it affect you and your perception of society?

Yeah, I’ve read a dystopian novel. The one I read was “The Hunger Games.” What made it dystopian was how it showed a future where everything is really messed up.

Like, the government is super controlling and makes people from different parts of the country fight each other in this brutal game just for entertainment. It’s all about power and keeping people scared so they don’t rebel.

Reading it made me think about how important it is for people to have a say in their government and how bad things can get when too much power is in the hands of just a few people. It also made me think about reality TV and how sometimes we watch stuff that’s kinda messed up for entertainment.

It’s just a story, but it made me look at things in the real world a bit differently, like how we treat each other and what we think is okay just because it’s on TV or the internet.


In the context of this text, how does dystopian fiction present the power of fear? How could dystopian or utopian fiction be used to manipulate readers?

In this text, dystopian fiction shows the power of fear by creating a world where things have gone really wrong because of stuff we’re already scared of in real life. Like, if we’re worried about being watched all the time, a dystopian story might show a future where everyone is constantly under surveillance by the government.

This kind of story uses our existing fears and makes them bigger and scarier, showing us that could happen if these fears came true.

Dystopian and utopian fiction can manipulate readers by manipulating their emotions and thoughts. Like, a dystopian story can make us really scared about the future by showing a really bad version of it. This can make us think more critically about our world and maybe even change what we do in our lives.

On the other hand, utopian fiction, which is about perfect worlds, can make us overly hopeful or even disappointed with the real world because it’s not as perfect as in the story. Both types of stories can change how we think and feel about stuff in real life, and that’s a kind of power.


In the context of the text, what will the future look like? Are either dystopian or utopian texts realistic possibilities for the future? Why or why not?

In the context of the text, the future is like a big “what if.” Dystopian fiction shows us a future that could happen if bad things in our society get way worse. It’s not saying this is definitely what will happen, but more like, “Hey, check out this super bad version of the future. Let’s try to avoid this.” It’s like a warning sign.

On the other hand, utopian fiction shows us a perfect world, which is pretty much the opposite. It’s like the dream version of the future where everything is awesome, and there are no big problems.

Are these futures realistic? Well, dystopian futures might feel more realistic because we always see problems around us, and it’s easier to imagine them getting worse. But these stories usually take it to an extreme that’s probably not going to happen exactly like that. We might have privacy and tech issues, but it’s unlikely to turn into a full-blown “Hunger Games” scenario.

Utopian futures are trickier because they’re so perfect, and real life is never perfect. There will always be some problems or disagreements, so a utopian future where everything is amazing and no one ever argues or has issues seems pretty unrealistic.

So, both types of texts are more like extreme possibilities or warnings. They’re not really predictions of the future but more like ways to make us think about where we’re going and what kind of world we want to live in.


In the context of the text, what are the costs and benefits of technology? Why do you think dystopian fiction focuses on the costs of technology? Do the costs of technology outweigh the benefits?

In the text, technology has both good and bad sides. The benefits are the cool stuff we can do with it, like making life easier and helping people connect with each other. It can also help with big problems, like finding cures for diseases.

But the costs of technology are what dystopian fiction usually focuses on. This kind of story often shows how technology can go wrong.

Like, it might make us too dependent on gadgets, invade our privacy, or even let governments control us more. Dystopian stories often show a future where technology makes life worse instead of better.

Dystopian fiction focuses on the costs of technology because it’s trying to warn us. It’s like saying, “Hey, technology is powerful, but we have to be careful with it.” These stories want us to think about how we use tech and what could happen if we’re not careful.

Do the costs outweigh the benefits? Well, it depends on how we use technology. If we use it wisely and think about the consequences, we can probably keep the costs down and enjoy the benefits more.

But if we’re not careful, the costs could get really bad, like in those dystopian stories. So, it’s all about balance and being smart with technology.


In the context of the text, can we control our fate? Do you think authors of dystopian fiction believe that their writing has the ability to change the course of human progress? How does dystopian fiction impact the future?

In the text, it seems we have some control over our fate. Dystopian fiction often shows bad futures as a way to warn us about what could happen if we don’t make good choices now. The authors say, “If we keep going down this path, things could get really bad, so let’s change things before it’s too late.”

I think authors of dystopian fiction do believe their writing can make a difference. They probably hope that showing these scary futures’ll make people think more about the choices we’re making today. It’s like they’re trying to push society to change course and avoid those bad outcomes.

Dystopian fiction can impact the future by making us think about what we’re doing and where we’re going. When we read these stories, we might start to question things around us and think about what needs to change.

This kind of thinking can lead to real changes, like people standing up for their rights, being more aware of environmental issues, or thinking twice about how much they let technology control their lives.

So, while the future isn’t predictable, we can influence it with our choices. And dystopian fiction can be a powerful tool to help us think about what those choices should be.

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