The idea that the rich be getting richer and the poor be getting poorer is nothing new, but Zelazny gives it the celestial treatment in Lord of Light. Zelazny's pantheon of gods has positioned itself as the upper class and created a type of trickle-down religion—whereby the people sacrifice their money and lives for the gods, and the gods in turn bless the people with a hearty pat on the back.
Unfortunately, the lower classes find themselves living in a type of economic, technological, and intellectual dark age while the gods of the Celestial City enjoy all the pleasure good food, superior technology, and unlimited funds can provide. Sam's mission is ultimately one of balancing this horribly tipped scale to redistribute society's gifts amongst all of society.
Questions About Society and Class
- Other than the gods, what other institutions create a social disparity in the novel? What are they? Are there similarities between the gods and these institutions? Differences? What does this suggest about this theme in the novel?
- Other than Sam, what character do you think is the great social equalizer in the novel? Why and where do you see evidence for this? What is this character's ultimate role in the novel?
- Looking from the other direction, what character do you think is the great social un-equalizer in the novel? Why, and where do you see evidence for this? What is this character's ultimate role in the novel?
- Pick another novel dealing with society and class that you've read before. How does it compare to Lord of Light's treatment on the subject? What are the similarities and differences? Does comparing the novels suggest other ways to view this theme? If so, what? If not, why not?
Chew on This
Social liberation for the lower classes is only possible because Sam, a member of the upper class, takes on the task.
Nirriti, like Sam, is a character whose goal is the leveling of society and class. Hey, say what you will about zombies, at least they don't maintain hierarchy.