is a utopian science fiction novel by B. F. Skinner, published in 1948. Skinner, a behavioral scientist, posited that human beings did not enjoy free will, but that like any organism we responded to environmental factors in predictable ways. This in turn would allow for a utopian society to be created via the manipulation of those factors, thus controlling a population’s behaviors.
The novel begins when two young men, Rogers and Steve, visit Professor Burris in his office. They are war veterans who have just recently returned, and they wish to discuss with Burris the utopian society he had once described in a lecture. Burris recalls the lecture, and remembers that it was inspired by a writer named T.E. Frazier. Burris had assumed Frazier was dead, but he learns otherwise, and promises Rogers and Steve that he will contact Frazier.
Frazier responds and invites all three men to come visit the community he has created, and urges them to bring along as many interested parties as they like. Burris takes him up on this and invites a fellow professor, Augustine Castle. Rogers and Steve elect to bring their girlfriends, Barbara and Mary. They travel by train and bus and are met by Frazier, who takes them to his community, which he has named Walden Two.
After a brief rest, Frazier takes his guests on a tour of the place. He informs them that everything in Walden Two is shared by the inhabitants. Even the buildings are communally owned, and are used for a variety of purposes. He takes them inside one of the buildings and introduces them to Mrs. Meyerson, who oversees the manufacture of clothing for the community. Frazier gives them all a gift—the glasses they used when having tea, designed to minimize spilling.
Steve and Roger both notice that all of the women in Walden Two are exceptionally well-dressed and attractive. They mention this to Frazier, and he tells them that this is the result of the women having all the free time they need to concentrate on their appearance, as well as complete freedom from the tyranny of â€›fashion’ and how it dictates certain trends whether or not you like them. When the guests note that the men are not as well-dressed, Frazier again agrees, and notes that the men are still working towards sartorial equality.
The children are observed to be very well behaved. Frazier informs them that until the age of seven the children must eat separately from the adults. When they turn seven they go through a ceremony, and are then allowed to join the adults at table. Frazier invites them to witness the ceremony of a seven-year-old girl named Deborah, Mrs. Meyerson’s daughter. The guests join them for dinner, and note the absence of crowding in Walden Two despite the large population. Frazier notes that the community has been designed to physically discourage crowds. The guests also observe that the beautifully-designed cafeteria used many clever inventions to minimize labor—in fact, all of the dish-washing could be accomplished by just two people.
Frazier explains that everyone in Walden Two works for labor credits; they may choose their own job but must be trained for specific roles, such as physicians. The less-desirable the work, the more it pays, and everyone must work for four hours every day. He informs them that as guests they will have to work for two hours. The next day the guests decide they will clean windows.
When they visit the nursery and observe how children are raised, Professor Castle becomes angry. The children are trained to reject temptations, and are allowed to move into the adult quarters when they turn 13. Frazier encourages early sexual experimentation, as it leads to people having children earlier in life, which leaves them freer about sex and also able to pursue their own desires, unencumbered by children.
The guests begin to have different feelings about Walden Two. Barbara and Castle do not like it, while Steve and Mary are eager to join. Castle feels Walden Two should share its breakthroughs with the world in order to improve everyone’s life, but Burris argues that it appears to be a self-contained community. Frazier reveals that there are other communities based on the same ideas, and that he has no special authority—he is simply a member of the community despite being its founder. Castle, on the other hand, sees Frazier as a tyrant who is controlling every aspect of the citizens’ lives.
Burris is undecided, and initially joins the others at the train station to go home. Once there, however, he changes his mind and decides he does wish to be a part of Walden Two. He hurries back and is greeted happily by Steve, who tells him cheerfully that Frazier had predicted his return. In an epilogue, Frazier reveals that the book has been published in order to publicize Walden Two.