Walden Two

by: B.F. Skinner

Chapters 3-5

Summary Chapters 3-5


Chapter 3

Frazier returns at 3 o'clock, and the group walks to the pond for tea. On their way, they pass a grassy area where sheep are grazing within a fence made of poles and a thin string. Frazier explains that they had once used an electric fence to keep the sheep together, but they discovered that the sheep would avoid the fence even if it were not electrified. With the string-and-poles setup, they can easily move the sheep to different areas of the pasture.

Frazier goes on to point out some of the features of Walden Two: the roads they have built, the pond they carefully maintain as a reservoir, the trees they have planted to separate each area from the other, and the buildings made of rammed earth. The group then sits down at a picnic table, and Frazier explains that Walden Two's buildings are communal: the dining, recreation, and work areas are all shared, and each is connected to the others. This lets the community avoid the perils and costs of bad weather. Frazier also describes a large passageway, the "Ladder," that connects one building with another one higher up the hill. It serves as both a stairway and a lounge, with small gathering areas and large windows located at steps along its length.

In response to a question from Rogers ("Rodge"), Frazier mentions that the architects were early members of the community and are now at work on a much bigger project.

Chapter 4

Frazier then leads the group to the Ladder, where Burris notes that works of art have been hung along its length. While examining the art, Burris gets caught up in a group of people who have come to sit in one of the alcoves. When he catches back up with the group, they are standing in an alcove with an attractive middle-aged woman, who is introduced as Mrs. Meyerson. Since she is in charge of "Clothing for Women," she is more qualified than Frazier to answer questions about clothing, child-care, and other aspects of Walden Two "of interest to the ladies." As the women leave to get tea, Frazier mentions that the tea service at Walden Two no longer involves standard cups and saucers; they have improved efficiency and reduced spilling by switching to tall glasses with special handles. Castle comments that this is a trivial achievement--not one that could serve as the foundation for a utopian society. As they get tea for themselves, Frazier aggressively enumerates the many ways in which this change has improved the tea service. Castle seems annoyed, but Burris is amused.

Chapter 5

When they have all settled down for tea, Burris notes that the women of Walden Two seem uniformly attractive. Frazier quickly says that no one was selected on the basis of attractiveness. Perhaps the reason that Burris finds the women so attractive, says Mrs. Meyerson, is that, since they are not constrained by fashion, everyone can wear what looks best on her. Style changes slowly at Walden Two and clothing is conserved as much as possible. On the other hand, style isn't entirely ignored; it is important that the members of Walden Two remain comfortable in the outside world. Because the members of Walden Two have ample leisure time, dressing well is not a burden.

While they are talking, a group of well-dressed and well-behaved children passes by. One of them stops to ask Mrs. Meyerson if she will be coming to Deborah's "debut" this evening. Frazier explains that when a child reaches the age of seven, she begins to eat her meals with the community. Deborah is one of Mrs. Meyerson's children. When the children have passed, Burris comments that the men appear to be more poorly dressed than the women; Frazier agrees that they have not managed to make the sexes completely equal. They leave the alcove and Frazier walks quickly ahead of the group to a room where children are singing "Happy Birthday" for Deborah's debut. When Burris catches up, he notices that Frazier is watching the proceedings with an expression of deep emotion. The visitors return to their quarters until dinner.

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