There are a lot of reasons for this, some good, some not so good. I think it has alot to do with that early struggle to establish an identity, to find a place and create a sense of safety and belonging. All good things of course until later when it edges into High School cliques, to exclusion and rigid hierarchies. Harmless play calcifies into Us. vs. Them. A shame.
I was thinking alot about this while reading Maze Runner. Just like in Lord of the Flies which partially inspired this book, the boys in Maze Runner very quickly ordered themselves into tribes of Sloppers, Med-Jacks, Baggers, Track-Hoes and at the top of the pile, the ones with the hardest job and the most prestige, Maze Runners. Newt says that all this order helps keep them sane in a terrible situation, and I'm sure that's true, but I did found myself struck by the seeming rigidness of the system and the council that called the shots. Did anybody elect these people? Can a Slopper dare to dream that he'll one day be a Maze Runner? Or is that once you're in your group your future is set? My feeling is that you're kind of stuck and I think some, I guess typically American, part of me is troubled by that.
Obviously this isn't exactly a driving force in the book but it's one that really got me thinking. It seems to me that this kind of tribal determinism plagues us everywhere we look (look no further than any High School lunch room) and it's often reflected in YA novels. Sometimes it's questioned, sometimes it just is.
What's your take on this? What do you think Dashner is saying with the groups portrayed and the governing structure in the book? Do you think the way the book ends is a comment on it? Do things change?
Also, what's your experience with High School tribalism? Do you think we can ever be without it? Should we try?
The Long Walk Home
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011