This Perfect Day


This Perfect Day Essay, Research Paper

This Perfect Day is probably Ira Levin’s greatest work of his

career. Levin’s work, despite being written in 1970, is very

plausible having realistic technology, such as scanners and

computers which watch over the entire family, the entire

population of the world. This novel could be used to show

the dangers of a Utopian society as well as being full of

anti-Communist and anti-racist sentiment. This Perfect Day

also displays the feeling that communist and segregated

institutions can be defeated, as the protagonist Chip over

powers the "family" and their vile Uni Comp as well as rising

above the segregated community he reaches after fleeing the


This work could best be placed in an area of the curriculum

where it is the students job to learn that although everyone

might not be equal, nor should they be, they are still human

and deserve to be treated with the respect and kindness we

would expect to be treated with. This work could be used in

conjunction with other works of literature that display the

same ideals against communism and discrimination as well as

a lack of compassion for others. Other works that could be

used in cohorts with Levin’s This Perfect Day, are

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut and even the

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Both of these

novels show the dangers of trying to create a Utopian

society and the chaos it causes. In Harrison Bergeron,

handicapping has become an American institution and it is

the governments responsibility to make sure that everyone is

equal in every way which ends up causing chaos and

rebellion. The Handmaid’s Tale shows the dangers of when

an extreme group takes over the United States after a

nuclear holocaust, with women being placed in a submissive

role to men, only being used to reproduce. This Perfect

Day could also be used in a section with novels such as

Uncle Tom’s Cabin which portray the evils of racism and

discrimination, just as the land where Chip ends up after

escaping the family, is very racist and segregated. He is

forced to endure the taunts and tortures of the folks who had

fought Uni from the beginning, yet he rises above these

bounds to return and destroy Uni Comp, thereby destroying

the family.

This Perfect Day begins in a land that has been unified

under, Uni Comp, a large computer that monitors all family

activities and controls any portions of their daily lives lies

deep in a cave below the Swiss Alps. The computer decides

on the work, residence, consumption of goods, whether they

will marry and if so whether they will have children.

Promotion of the family’s good is the main importance in any

member’s life. "Losing’s the same as winning" is one of the

phrases taught to small children. "Hate" and "fight" are dirty

words while fuck is not. Genetics has progressed to the

point where skin color is universally tan, while body shape is

unisex, and facial features are programmed, with most

members containing brown slanted eyes. The family is trying

to genetically remove such undesired elements of life such as

aggressiveness and egotism while implanting docility and

loving kindness in their place. While searching for the genetic

basis to these undesired elements, Uni Comp subjects every

member of the family to monthly treatments which contain

vaccines, contraceptives, and tranquilizers, as well as some

substance that reduces one’s sex drive down to only being

able to perform on Saturday night. All of this is watched

over by one’s counselor, one who watches the members

individual mental health very closely.

The novel starts early in the life of a boy named Chip, or Li

RM35M4419, his official ‘family’ given name. His

grandfather, Papa Jan had given him the nickname Chip.

Chip had always though his grandfather was a bit eccentric,

twisting words and displaying feelings that did not fall in line

with the rest of the ‘family’s’, Chip thought that his

grandfather might be a sick member. On a family trip to the

biggest tourist attraction on the planet, Uni Comp, Papa Jan

leads Chip downstairs, without touching scanners as they

pass, to a large cold room filled with large black boxes.

Papa Jan begins telling Chip how he helped build Uni Comp

and this is the real computer, not the pastel posies upstairs

for the tourists to view. Chip feels unsure because he has

lied to Uni by not touching the scanners and now it does not

know where he is. He also wonders why Uni Comp would

lie to them and why Papa Jan brought him down here. This

is Chip’s first experiences with anti-family feelings and those

associated with sick members. As Chip grows up, he

continues having thoughts that go against the grain.

Everything about his unified world seems strange and not

quite right, but these feelings are quickly suppressed at the

end of each month when it is time for his monthly treatment.

As time goes on, Chip explores his feelings, sometimes

putting off a treatment for a day or two so that he becomes

more aware of his surroundings. Eventually, a band of folks

like himself notices Chip. They too are dissatisfied with their

current lives and how Uni represses their thoughts and

feelings, as well as actions with it’s prescribed monthly

treatments. They show him how to act so that he can get his

monthly treatments reduced and begin to explore his new

found wants and desires. This band meets and talk about

how they wish the world were better and they also skip off

for un-repressed sex and to smoke tabacco. Eventually,

Chip wants more. He wants more freedom, and he wants

the leader of the pack’s girlfriend, Lilac. He eventually

explores, finding that there are many places in the world

such as Madagascar and others where un-treated people

live not under the watchful eye of Uni Comp. He also finds

that the leader of the group, King also knows of these

islands, but is too afraid to go despite his cool outer

appearance. Eventually, in a sudden rage, Chip is caught, his

treatments increased to normal. Once treated Chip admits to

all he knows and tells everything about the sick members

leading the group to be broken up and for all the "sick"

member’s treatments to be returned to normal. Chip lives

how a good member should, until the end of one month

when he spies a leaf on a wet rock and considers the

possibilities. He could make a small flesh colored covering

that goes over his arm and it would not allow the treatments

to penetrate his skin. What would happen when he was not

treated at all. He would be able to explore all of his feelings

to the fullest. After a few months of planning and calculating

without treatment. Chip sneaks his way to Africa where he

has found that Lilac now lives. He steals her away and of

course she resists, after she says some nasty things a few

weeks later, he rapes her which pushes her even further

away. But eventually as her last treatment wears off she

begins to agree with Chip and at first says she’ll only go to

the island with him, then they’ll go their separate ways, but

then she says she will stay with him once they arrive as well.

Eventually they reach the island and find nothing but

segregation and racism against those who were former

members of the family by those whom originally rebelled

against Uni Comp. Chip becomes dissatisfied with his life on

the island as well. He decides he will only truly be happy and

free once he destroys Uni Comp and releases the family

from it’s grip. He formulates a plan and a party and sets out

to destroy the true Uni Comp. The one that lies deep under

the mountains. He and his party set out, but are tricked by

one member of the party who really was a spy. He takes

them deep into the mountains where they meet the

programmers of Uni Comp, who due to the bands ingenuity

in trying to destroy Uni Comp, want them to join the group

of programmers. They agree and live their lives in luxury

served in any way they could possible imagine, while looking

over the needs and concerns of the family. Chip never loses

sight of his true goal though and eventually when another

band of rebels is caught, he takes the impounded explosives

and sets out to destroy Uni Comp. Wei, the head

programmer as well as one of the main figure heads along

with Christ, Wood and Marx in designing the new unified

world, is the only thing standing in his way once he reaches

his destination and he fights him. Chip eventually traps Wei

and leaves him to die in the explosion. The family is now free

of Uni’s grip and Chip heads off to find Lilac.

The only real controversial element of Ira Levin’s novel is the

fact that Chip rapes Lilac. Rape has occurred in other works

studied before in the curriculum. Such as in the Kind Arthur

stories and The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. This issue

was also dealt with in novels read by students in seventh

grade, as in So Far From the Bamboo Grove. The rape

that occurs in this work is really no different from any that

occurred in any other novel listed here. It is no worse in any

way, and even shows how wrong this act really is. Lilac is

hurt by Chip and tries to leave him several times after this

event occurs and Chip sees how wrong he was in

committing this act and must learn to control his new found

animal urges. The only other controversial material are

swears, and those have been scattered throughout any

novels already read by students even as young as eighth

grade, such as many of the John Steinbeck novels read in

that curriculum. There is nothing in This Perfect Day that

students haven’t already experienced in other works of

literature already in the curriculum.

The only large worthwhile literary review found, that was

more than a sentence or two was, "This Perfect Hell" by

Ralph Raico. Raico is a history professor at SUNY College

in Buffalo and published his review in American Enterprise.

(Sep/Oct 98, Vol. 9 Issue 5, p82, 1p.) Raico speaks of

Levin’s other works, but says that This Perfect Day was by

far his best and deserves to be filmed just as many others

such as Rosemary’s Baby and Sliver were. He gives nothing

but praise to the novel, he says, " This Perfect Day belongs

to the genre of "dystopian" or anti-utopian novels, like

Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984. Yet it is

more satisfying than either." He is very enthusiastic about the

quality and meaningfulness of Levin’s novel and gives it the

highest regards.


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