Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A. Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land Theme of Rules and Order
Rules and order prevail over human independence. (Sounds menacing, right?) But unlike their "Traditions and Customs" counterparts, they do not hide behind the scenes like some Illuminati-type conspiracy group. They take charge from the front lines in the form of laws—political, religious, and natural. People accept the rules because they provide a façade of order, even at the cost of individual liberty. But Mike and Jubal's conflict with rules and order is not based on a simple idea that rules are bad. After all, Jubal has rules in his house and Mike in his church. Instead, people get fussy in Stranger in a Strange Land only when rules are created and wielded for the sole purpose of granting one person power over another or to limit an individual's liberty.
Questions About Rules and Order
- Is it possible that Mike's Church of All Worlds actually has more rules that lessen individual liberty? Why or why not?
- What are the rules of Jubal's house? Do these rules maintain order, create an environment akin to taking a ride on a crazy train, or meet somewhere in between? How so?
- What makes a political law or ruling inadequate in Stranger? What types of political laws are ideal? In your answer, give examples from the book.
- Both Mike and Jubal rebel against rules and laws they find unjust. What knowledge must they have before they can have a fighting chance? Are they successful?
Chew on This
The political rules of the World Federation entrap Joe Douglas just as much—maybe even more—than Mike.
Madame Vesant's astrology demonstrates that the desire for order will make us follow rules we know to be bunk.