2nd Prize Winner
Mike Levandowski Essay
Commonwealth, the main setting in The Last Town on Earth, by Thomas Mullen, is an excellent example of a utopian society. That is, it was an excellent example until the town fell on hard times and had its ideals put to the test.
In the beginning of the story, the town has all of the trappings of a utopian society. First of all, there is no crime and no police. Secondly, workers in the town mill are provided with houses free of charge. What’s more, Charles Worthy, the owner of the mill does not take advantage of his workers for self gain. He pays them all high wages and he, himself, lives a rather meager life for a mill owner. Worthy’s only concern is the wellbeing of Commonwealth. As a result of his desire to maintain the welfare of the town, he suggests they all quarantine themselves to avoid the Spanish flu that is ravaging the surrounding countryside. This is when the utopian feel of the town begins to disappear.
Armed guards are posted to, ideally, keep outsiders out and the townspeople in. However, in the process of protecting the town, two innocent people who were lost and in need of food and shelter were denied help and eventually killed. This is hardly a utopian way to handle a situation. As the quarantine continued much needed food from the community gardens was stolen, and eventually the remainder of the towns’ supplies from the general store were taken as well.
At the end of the novel, the quarantine fails and the town becomes infected. Some of the people of Commonwealth secretly left to selfishly gratify their own needs in nearby infected villages, returning to Commonwealth with the sickness. Ultimately the selfish actions of some of the residence doomed the rest of the town, finally destroying the remainder of the utopian feel.