If there's one good thing about some dystopian societies—and that's a big if—it's that the heavy lifting is done for you. Lena doesn't have to apply to colleges, go to job interviews, or even go on dates. Her education, career, and marriage are all decided for her in Delirium. This complete lack of free will is problematic for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is that Lena ends up acting like a doormat. She feels like she can't do anything about what's happening to her because that's what she's been taught. In fact, she's so accustomed to doing what she's told, we wouldn't be surprised if she turned out to be a puppet. And a lame one, too, like Howdy Doody. Eventually, Lena's going to have to realize that if she wants to be happy, she must take charge of her own life.
Questions About Passivity
- Is Lena a strong-willed or weak-willed character? Support your answer with quotes from the text.
- Does Lena's government encourage its people to be weak? If so, how does it do this?
- What are the consequences of passivity when the Regulators conduct their raids?
Chew on This
Lena has been conditioned to do what she's told, so it's only natural that she lets people walk all over her.
Hana lives in the same city and goes to the same school as Lena, but she's a rebel—she seeks out boys and banned entertainment. So it's Lena's own nature that makes her passive, not her environment.