Chapters 13-24

  1. Why do the Erewhonians approach death without excessive disappointment? What has happened to the practice of erecting funerary statues? Against what Victorian social pratices do you think Butler may be arguing?
  2. What are Erewhonian attitudes toward pregnancy and childbirth? Do these differ from Victorian ones? Why do women conceal their pregnancies from their husbands as long as possible?
  3. In the case of child death, on what grounds is the mother excused? What acts do you think Butler is obliquely criticizing here?
  4. What is satirized in the chapter, "The Musical Banks" (15). In particular, which institution do you think Butler has in mind? What are the characteristics of "musical banks," who visits them, and what kinds of coinage do they accept? What does he have to say about their architecture and their music?
  5. What aspects of religion and/or its practitioners does Butler seem to be satirizing? What seems intended by noting that new windows have been provided, but the "money" itself has not changed? (i. e. church doctrine)
  6. Are their officials able to obtain other occupations? What does Butler think of the practice of buying "livings" for young children for later use?
  7. Who are the Ydgrunites, and in particular, the high Ydgrunites?
  8. What does Butler seem to think about the probably of the existence of a supernatural realm? (147, "while to deny the existence of an unseen kingdom is bad, to pretend that we know more about it than its bare existence is no better").
  9. In chapter 16, "Arowhena," what report from the hero's country pleases the Erewhonian monarch? How does the narrator offend the king?
  10. Why would the Nosnibors object to a marriage between the narrator and Arowhena? What strict rules about the choice of a suitable partner do they uphold?
  11. How does the narrator differ from Arowhena about the origins and nature of religion? Why do the Erewhonians believe a strict faith in the literal attributes of abstract qualities such as "justice" is necessary for social order? (153)
  12. What is the point of Arowhena's analogy between her culture's beliefs and his? Are the narrator's defense of the origins of Christianity intended to be convincing?
  13. Why does Butler present Erewhonian "laws" of science, enforced as matters of morality, such as that no two objects may occupy the same space?
  14. What does the speaker belief to be the best means of finding the "divine"? What actions will most likely obscure it?
  15. In chapter 17, "Ydgrun and the Ydgrunites," what aspects of convention and conformity are parodied? Does conventionality have any advantages? (157)
  16. How do the Erewhonians deal with conflicts between Ydgrun and their ostensible religion?
  17. Of what form of afterlife are the Erewhonians able to conceive? Why do some Erewhonians believe that the doctrine of a future state was immoral? What do they think of his argument that many refuse death from fear of the afterlife?
  18. What do the Erewhonians believe about the nature of birth? Why do they hold children responsible for initiating their own existence? What form of birth document do the unborn sign?
  19. What practices of his society/its religious institutions does Butler seem to satirize in this chapter? Womihat were Victorian arguments for and against infant baptism? What problems are caused for Erewhonians by such birth contracts?
  20. In chapter 19, "The World of the Unborn," what do the Erewhonians believe about time and the past? What do they believe are some of the disadvantages of birth and the ensuing life? Are these disadvantages common to all societies? Are some of the Erewhonian beliefs held in other societies?
  21. In chapter 20, "What They Mean By It," what does the narrator believe to the attitude of Erewhonian children and parents toward each other? In the rare cases of mutual love, what has caused this affinity? (176)
  22. What does Butler believe are some economic causes of the resentment of children toward parents? Do his statements apply with special force to Victorian conditions?
  23. What does the narrator believe are causes of growing infanticide? Could his remarks have applied to Victorian England?
  24. What does the narrator believe is wrong with British middle-class education? What should be the proper goals of education? Does Butler's critique resemble those of other Victorians, such as George Eliot in Mill on the Floss?
  25. What does the narrator think of the Victorian view that money and culture are opposed? Is the narrator's description of the Erewhonians's reverence for wealth intended as serious or ironic?
  26. What is being satirized in the description of the Erewhonians' experimentation with the rule of youth over age?
  27. In chapter 21, "The Colleges of Unreason," what are the conventions which make it impossible for Arowhena to wed the narrator honorably? Would these have resonated for Butler's audience, steeped in the Old Testament?
  28. Why do Erewhonians teach their children "hypothetics"? Against which Victorian practices is this satire directed? What does the narrator find to be the limitations of teaching a language used "in a very different state of civilisation to what it is at present"? What does he think of the practice of translating poetry into hypothetics? (191) What Victorian school practice is here parodied?
  29. What do you think Butler intends by representing university professorships of "Inconsistency and Evasion"? Which practices does the narrator think would be scrutinized if Erewhonians subjected their practices to reason? (187)
  30. In chapter 22, why do the Erewhonians endow a Professorship of Worldly Wisdom but disregard originality and genius? How are student papers judged?
  31. What do the Erewhonians believe about the desirability of progress? ( 191) What surprises Butler about the effects of Erewonian education? (192)
  32. What "common sense" do the Erewhonians exhibit in their responses to art? ("The artist, they contend, is a dealer in pictures, and it is as important for him to learn how to adapt his wares to the market, and to know approximately what kind of a picture will fetch how much, as it is for him to be able to paint the picture. This, I suppose, is what the French mean by laying so much stress upon 'values,'" 193)
  33. What reaction does the narrator have when he visists the Erewhonian colleges and their professors? (194) Are the writings of articles always sincere in their beliefs, and if so, why not? (194-95) What aspects of Victorian society is Butler noting/satirizing in this chapter?
  34. What does he learn about the history of the struggle between the machinists and the anti-machinists? What is the present position of machines in Erewhonian society?
  35. In chapter 23, what points are made by the pioneer anti-machinist? What do you think Butler himself thinks of these arguments? May some of his arguments apply to Victorian religious or scientific debates? Are any of these issues still relevant today, say, in the debates about cyborgs and artificial intelligence?
  36. In chapter 24, are some of the arguments made by the anti-machinists similar to statements by Victorian contemporaries such as Caryle and Ruskin? (205, 208-9) What Victorian social changes have prompted anxieties such as those of the anti-machinists?
  37. What evidence seems to suggest that machines may be independent or potentially controlling entities? (207) Are there potential perils in the need for constant updating and obsolence? What point is served by the discussion on whether machines can reproduce? (210-11) In all, what does the writer find the most troubling aspect of machines? (213)
  38. How do Butler's discussions in chapters 22-25 relate to wider Victorian social critiques of alienation and the subordination of persons to factory profit/industrialization within Victorian society?
  39. In chapter 25, what is the symbology of the narrator's loss of the original anti-machine manuscript? What did the author have to say about pipes? What do the anti-machine people believe about the certainty of the future, and what is this intended to parody? (free-will vs. determinism)
  40. What Victorian debates are parodied by the anti-machinist's claim, "Could I believe that ten hudnred thousand years ago a single one of my ancestors was another kind of being to myself, I should lose all self-respect, and take no further interest in life"? (222)
  41. Are some of the arguments about the improvements of machines at the expense of humans premonitory? (234) What do you make of the classification of men according to horse-power? (225-26) What does this seem to satirize?
  42. In chapter 26, "The Views of an Erewhonian Prophet Concerning the Rights of Animals," what excesses and consequences of prohibition are parodied? How do Erewhonians come to avoid the prohibition against the eating of meat? Do the forms of prohibition described apply to any other Victorian practices, such as their views of sexual activity? What do you make of the case of the man who hangs himself when caught secretly eating a mutton chop? (232-34)
  43. In chapter 27, "The Rights of Vegetables," what views are propounded by the pro-vegetable prophet, and with what possible motive? What arguments does he make for the intelligence of plants? Might some modern scientists or environmentalists agree with him?
  44. What advice is given to the Erewhonians by their oracle, and what seems to be parodied in the oracle and its mode of interpretation? What does the narrator think drives the Erewhonians to listen to "would-be philosophers and faddists"?
  45. In "Escape," what threat prompts the narrator to attemp escape? What do you make of the balloon escape? Does it reflect some contemporary advances in air balloons or other aspects of aeronautics? Why does the narrator throw away the books he has taken with him?
  46. What role does Arowhena play in the escape scene? Why do you think she was included at all?
  47. In the "Conclusion," what account of their origins does the narrator give to those who rescue him, and why? Why do you think he was unwilling to tell the truth? What account of his death has been given by Chowbok? (255)
  48. Are his sisters glad to see him? How does the narrator make his living in London?
  49. What religious and social preoccupations does the narrator express on returning home? Has he learned much from his journey? What actions does he propose for the conversion of the Erewhonians by force? (256-57)
  50. What do you make of the fact that the narrator encounters Chowbok as a missionary in London? That he attibutes the latter's conversion to himself? Why do you think the book ends with a solicitation for money?
  51. Which aspects of the frame are satirical or distancing, and what aspects of Victorian colonial practice do these satirize? Can you compare the ending with that of other colonial fictions, such as Conrad's Heart of Darkness?
  52. What do you think are some final meanings of the book?