Study Guide

Snow Crash Rules and Order

By Neal Stephenson

Rules and Order

Society functions because there are rules that people have to follow. Well, most of the time. What happens when those rules start to break down, and order gives way to chaos? Snow Crash gives us a glimpse into an alternate America where the right to personal freedom overrides law.

On a personal level, we see characters that do not play by the rules, do not play well with others, and generally avoid anything resembling order. Even the most anarchistic individuals find themselves folded back into some kind of structure, though: Raven agrees to work for Rife, Hiro partners up with Y.T., and the both of them do work with/for the Mafia. Maybe rules are only bad when they make you do stuff you don't want to do. And if you're smart enough, you can find a way to work around them anyway, right?

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. Who breaks more rules: Hiro or Y.T.? Give specific examples. 
  2. What sort of order does Rife's vision of the future impose on individuals?
  3. What are some examples of laws we have today that don't seem to exist in Snow Crash
  4. Which religions in the book promote rules-based morality? 
  5. Which religion in the book would you consider converting to, and why?

Chew on This

The rule-breaking tendencies of the main characters are exactly what let them thrive in the dystopian world of Snow Crash.

It's okay to break the rules so long as you're smart enough to not get caught.