Utopia: Novel Summary: Book II - Of their traffic
Families are made up of people closely related to one another. When the women grow up, they are married out, but the males continue to live in the same house. The oldest man is head of the family. No city contains more than six thousand families, and each family has between ten and sixteen people in it, excluding children. If a city becomes overpopulated, some families are moved to underpopulated areas. If the population of the whole country grows too much, then some people are sent to colonize the neighboring mainland. If the native population resist, the Utopians will use force, on the grounds that every person has a right to cultivate soil that would otherwise be wasteland. If the population on Utopia drops, some colonists are recalled.
Within the family, wives are subservient to their husbands, and children to their parents. Younger people are subservient to older ones.
Every city is divided into four sections, and each has a market place at the center, where people bring the food and goods that they produce. Each father goes and takes whatever he needs for his family, without having to pay for it. No one takes more than he needs, since there are no shortages.
Outside the towns is a place near running water where animals are butchered for meat. This is done by slaves, since it is believed that butchering animals has a negative effect on character. The Utopians do not allow anything unclean to be brought into the towns, lest it cause disease.
In each street is a great hall where the Syphogrant lives. Each Syphogrant presides over thirty families. Those thirty families meet and dine together in the great hall. The meals are skillfully prepared by the women of the families, who take it in turn to cook. Menial kitchen tasks are performed by slaves.
Each town has four hospitals, and the Utopians take better care of their sick than any other nation.
At the communal meals, children under five sit separately with the nurses. Older children up to marriageable age serve their elders. Young people are seated near older people, as this is thought to have a good influence on their behavior. Dinner and supper begin with a lecture on morality, but it is kept short. In the country, everyone eats in their own homes because of the large distance between houses.
A form of population control is practiced in Utopia, but the term does not carry the same meaning as today: no one is told how many children they may have, and contraception is not involved. People are simply moved if there are population problems.
This section goes a more detailed account of this society without money or private property works. Nobody earns money for his labor, but everyone's needs are provided for so that he or she receives free food, housing, and health care. This system has been partially implemented by governments worldwide, which in different degrees provide health care, some housing, and tokens that can be exchanged for food, either universally or to those in need. Money, however, has never been absent from the equation, and funds for such programs are raised through taxes.
Communal dining is a feature common to many utopian civilizations, including that of Plato's Republic and the Greek historian Plutarch's (c. 46-127) description of the city of Sparta in his work, Lives. Communal dining is also, of course, practiced in monasteries and nunneries.
Utopia Study GuideChoose to Continue
- Novel Summary
- Book I
- Book II - Geographical features of Utopia and agriculture
- Book II - Of their towns, particularly of Amaurot
- Book II - Of their magistrates
- Book II - Of their trades, and manner of life
- Book II - Of their traffic
- Book II - Of the traveling of the Utopians
- Book II - Of their slaves, and of their marriages
- Book II - Of their military discipline
- Book II - Of the religions of the Utopians
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- Essay Q&A