Can a person be too broken by his life to be saved? In The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood,the convicts who come out of the novel’s version of prison, Painball, are no longer human. They have moved into the realm of cunning, intelligent animal predators and must be treated as such. But there are other ways this concept applies too. It is possible to be so emotionally broken that you can’t be fixed. At worst, people retreat into insanity; at best, into a hermit-like existence devoid of the society of others. They become as emotionally afraid of others as the novel’s characters are physically afraid of the Painballers. They retreat from a reality they see as uninhabitable. But what if reality really did become uninhabitable?The last two novels I’ve read have had plots and themes about the dissolution of our society. In The Hunger Games, the country has become a totalitarian state with no protections for the individual in a society governed by group think and propaganda. In The Year of the Flood, the “waterless flood” has washed away any semblance of society. When society breaks down, and there is not only no safety net but no safety at all, emotional and physical pain become the most prevalent experience for humanity. One of the main characters in The Year of the Flood observes that sadness may be a kind of hunger. It makes sense to think that when you are sad, it is because you hunger for something you don't have. Sadness and hunger become the rule rather than the exception in a dystopic society. I suppose when you get to the point of living all the time in survival mode, you don’t have time to ask yourself questions about the purpose of your life or about the direction of your species. You learn to live in the moment and to continue to live only so others later may be able to live more easily than you. But I can’t imagine wanting to stay alive in a world like that. Good thing the propagation of the species doesn’t depend on me. If society collapsed, I’d be one of the first ones tagging out, I’m afraid.